University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
LANDSCAPING WITH VINES
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension
University of Vermont
Vines, while of great
landscape value, often have been ignored in landscape plans because many
gardeners fail to realize their potential. Vines lend themselves admirably to
vertical structures found in contemporary and old-fashioned gardens. Vines can
partially cover and blend the structure with other plantings.
vines with coarse foliage or dense habit of growth are ideal for fences or
arbors. These vines can be used for screening objectionable views, either
permanently or temporarily, until other plantings are large enough to achieve
the desired effect. They will give shade and privacy to a porch or break the
monotony of a long fence or stone wall. A common vine seen screening porches in
New England is the Dutchman’s Pipe.
steep banks or under shade trees where grass can be grown only with difficulty,
certain vines such as our native trumpet honeysuckle make fine ground covers.
In areas where space is very limited and high shrubs would require too much
room, they can be used instead of shrubbery to achieve the effect of a narrow
space divider or barrier.
making any selection, carefully consider how the vine will be used. To cover an
entire fence with a solid mass of foliage you want a vine with dense foliage,
such as the hardy kiwi. To add pattern and interest to a stone wall without
entirely covering it, a slower growing type with interesting leaves would be
more desirable, such as a clematis.
can be grouped into three types according to their method of
climbing--tendrils, twining, or clinging. The kind of support you have will
largely determine the type of vine selected.
If you already have or desire a particular vine, this will determine its
grape is probably the best known of the vines that climb by means of tendrils.
Tendrils are slim, flexible shoots or, in some cases, leaf-like parts that act
as tendrils. They quickly wrap themselves around anything they come in contact
with to support the vine for further growth.
choosing grapes for the north, make sure and choose hardy cultivars (cultivated
varieties) such as ‘Worden’ concord-type grape, or one of the Minnesota
hybrids. While grapes and Virginia
creeper climb with stem tendrils (shoots arising opposite a leaf on the stem),
peas have leaf tendrils (modified leaves arising opposite a leaf on a stem).
supports for vines with tendrils include netting, wooden grids (such as you
find already made at lumber stores) or arbors, wire mesh, or twine. While twine
only lasts a season, it can be cut down and vines easily removed for cleanup in
fall. Clematis have long-leaved tendrils
that readily climb on most any stem, trellis, or even other vines including its
own. Make sure supports are of a durable materials and strong enough to support
the weight of vines.
twining vines climb by winding their stems around any available support. Look
at the vine as it grows to see which direction it wants to grow so you don’t
train it in the wrong direction. No harm
will be done if so, except the vine may not stay put, and will have to correct
itself. Most twiners grow counter
clockwise around their support, looking down on them, but some such as hops
grow clockwise. Twining vines to consider
are the wisteria (generally hardy only to USDA zone 6, although ‘Aunt Dee’
grows in zone 5 and ‘Clara Mack’ in zone 4), fiveleaf akebia, and both hardy
and showy kiwi.
supports, twine, or wire are best for twiners so they have something to wrap
around. Hops are unique, and technically not a vine
but rather a “bine”, in that they cling by stiff hairs on the stem. It’s these same hairs that easily cause
temporary skin rashes when brushed against.
For these hairs to have something to grasp, you’ll need to use a coarse
twine for training (such as baling twine).
clinging vines are better adapted to climbing on even, vertical surfaces. These
fall into two types. One, such as the Boston ivy climbs by means of tendrils
with disk-like adhesive tips that attach themselves firmly to any surface. The other type climbs by means of small
aerial roots at intervals along the stems. These dig into the crevices of any
rough-textured surface, such as brick or bark, and cling tightly. When allowed
to trail on the ground or climb in the joints of a dry-laid stone wall, they
may root and form new plants. Examples of root-clinging vines include English
ivy, wintercreeper, trumpet creeper, and climbing hydrangea.
you’d like to grow vines to cover a wall, you’ll need to hang or suspend
supports, or erect a trellis a few inches out from the wall. Leave this space between the vines and
structure for air circulation. This will
help prevent disease on the plant and mold on the wall. If a trellis, it should be movable in case
the wall needs repainting or repair.
roses may fit the function of a vine, but they don’t really
climb. Instead the long stems “arch”, usually with
thorns that help them cling to objects like fences, so may be called
“ramblers”. These not only need strong supports, but also
ones in cold climates,or for tender cultivars, that can be lowered to
ground in winter for covering with straw