Use vines to provide shade privacy in garden

Jun. 03, 2014 @ 04:55 PM

Vines can be used in the garden for a variety of purposes — to provide shade, create a privacy screen, use as a ground cover or add as a decorative element to an arbor and to walls. In small gardens, vines give height to the landscape without the need for a lot of ground space. Select a suitable vine for its intended use, location, soil type and the type of support you plan to use. Choose from vines that have bright flowers, fragrances, interesting leaf patterns, produce fruit or all of the above. Vine plant varieties can be annuals or perennials, deciduous or evergreen.

How vines climb

Vines climb by either tendrils, twining or by clinging and therefore require different types of support systems. Tendrils are flexible, leafless stems that wrap themselves around anything they come in contact with. Tendril-type vine plants are best supported with wire or thin wood stakes. Grape vines (perennial and deciduous) and cucumbers (annuals) are two fruiting vines that climb via tendrils. Clematis (evergreen perennial) is a example of a flowering, tendril vine.

Twining vines wind their stems around wires, trellises and arbors. Make sure these support systems are constructed with strong, durable and sturdy materials. Wisteria (perennial and deciduous) is an example of a twining vine.

Clinging vines attach themselves to rough-textured

surfaces such as brick walls and trees with small aerial rootlets. Care should be taken to avoid planting clinging vines near wood frame buildings or fences as their rootlets can cause damage to wooden walls. Clinging vines can also be used as a ground cover. Boston ivy is a good example of a clinging vine.

Choosing a vine: Soils and sun

There are vine varieties for almost every type of soil or light condition. Whether you have partial shade, full sun or anything in between, there is a vine variety available. Full sun is best if you choose a vine that produces edible fruit such as grapes, cucumbers, beans, kiwi, Malabar spinach and certain squash. For shady locations, ornamental vines such as the tendril climbing evergreen smilax (Smilax lanceolata) with its beautiful evergreen foliage and the twining climber Japanese star jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum) with evergreen leaves and yellowish white flowers are a good choices.

For full sun, heat and drought conditions, consider the trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans), a deciduous vine with bright orange trumpet shaped flowers that attract humming birds. The deciduous goldflame honeysuckle (Lonicera x heckrotti) is also a hummingbird favorite that produces red flower buds that open to yellow flowers in shadier conditions.

For evergreen vines that tolerate any type of soil and sun conditions, try the fiveleaf akebia (Akebia quinata), a rapid growing vine that produces light, fruity scented purple flowers or the cross vine (Bignonia capreolata), a clinging vine with showy orange flowers.


Mary Roberts and Ray Tarlton are owners and managers of  Windcrest Farm, a USDA Certified Organic farm and greenhouse in Monroe, NC . Visit for more information about plants, produce and classes. Facebook: Windcrest Farm Organics