Answer: Ivy (Hedera helix) can fill in surprisingly quickly, especially if the soil is decent and there is adequate moisture. With any luck, you may find old roots sprouting new top growth unless the previous owner was very thorough. You can point growing ends in the direction you would like them to go in addition to planting new plants.
Ivy can be rooted easily in pots using tip cuttings about four to six inches long (remove leaves and stems from the bottom few inches, insert into soil, firm soil, keep shaded and moist until rooted; stick several cuttings into each small pot). Cuttings can be taken further back into the plant, especially if they have some roots on them, but the thicker the stem the longer it will take to form new roots. Once rooted they can be safely planted in the ground.
Working in spring when it is in active growth, you can also stick cuttings directly into the ground where you want it to grow, but if you do this you will have to be very careful about watering it so I would suggest the pot routine. It is best to prepare the soil as you would for any new plant, loosening it and working in some organic matter and to mulch around them to discourage weeds while the ivy is establishing itself. If you want moderately fast coverage, plant them about a foot or so apart.
Good luck with your project!
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