Vertical gardening is a landscaping technique of growing plants on a structure such as a trellis or arbor. Plants are grown "up" instead of "out". This is a valuable landscaping method because it adds interest to a garden by adding height. Trellises and arbors can form focal points that attract the viewer’s attention.

Not all plants are suitable for growing on structures. Vines, by their growth habit, are ideal for structures. They have slender stems and can attach themselves to vertical supports. They can be used to provide interest on a blank wall, to cover an old tree stump or to decorate a post. Their use is limited only by the imagination, mainly because of the many types of vines available in nurseries.

A vine can be selected for almost any growing situation. Many vines are evergreen, keeping their leaves all year. Others are deciduous, dropping their leaves each fall. Many deciduous vines display good fall color, adding more interest to the landscape. There are woody vines, herbaceous vines and annual vines. Some may only grow 5-6 feet, while others tower to 40 or 50 feet. English Ivy (Hedera helix) (Figure 1) can reach 100 feet if it finds a suitable support.

Fig1EngIvy.jpg (238171 bytes)
Figure 1. English Ivy (Hedera helix) can reach heights of 100 feet if
given suitable support

Benefits can be obtained by growing vines on the side of a building. Vines have a natural cooling effect. They can help lower air conditioning bills by blocking sunlight and their transpiration also lowers the air temperature next to the wall. The temperature between the vine and the wall can be 10 degrees cooler than the outside air temperature. Planting deciduous vines on the south and west sides of a house help lower summer temperatures while still allowing the warming effect of the sun during winter.

Return to Vertical Gardening

How do vines climb?
Growing Vertically
Table of Climbing Vines

Horticulture Projects