Climbing plants are ideal for landscaping because you can effectively plan for and limit their size. Their eventual heights and widths are determined by the structures on which they are grown. The structures themselves fill the space before the vines or climbers have reached full growth.

Vines can provide a beautiful layer of ground cover for your yard.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Vines can provide a beautiful layer of ground cover for your yard.

Be careful not to let vines escape their bounds by climbing into nearby trees. Clinging vines can damage the house structure by working their roots into the mortar, if it is weak. It's better to train vines up trellises set about a foot away from the house.

There are many different kinds of vines, and they climb in different ways:
  • Twining vines need something to twist around. The new growth twists onto supports as it grows. Sturdy poles and pergolas make good supports. Examples are kiwi, bougainvillea, American bittersweet, morning glory, honeysuckle, American wisteria, and black-eyed Susan vine. All of these can grow prodigiously in a single season.

  • Vines with tendrils need slender strings, wires, or narrow supports to grasp onto. Examples are clematis, passionflower, and grape. They are easy to train, but do not let them start climbing into trees. They can be used to beautify chain-link fences but need additional wires or trellising to grow on wooden fences.

  • Clinging vines stick to solid objects. These vines work their aerial roots into the smallest of crevices in solid walls. They can damage some kinds of walls, especially brick walls with old mortar that is beginning to weaken, but are safe to grow if the wall is sound. Do not grow them on surfaces that need to be painted from time to time. Clinging vines are fine on other walls and sturdy supports. These vines include climbing hydrangea, trumpet creeper, and winter-creeper.
Find out how vines do double-duty in a garden in the next section.