For many people, their gardens are a place to escape the stresses of daily life. One of the ways to create that retreat feel is through privacy.
While trees and shrubs can certainly create a living barrier within your yard, creatively placed vines can also give you that feeling of privacy. Keven Graham, American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), principal and landscape architect of Planning Resources in Illinois, recommends vines for places that are tight or narrow such as a side yard or near a spa.
Vines can also work well as camouflage for areas you might want to hide or simply give a softer look. Draping a chain-link or metal fence with a selection of blossoming vines can bring a more natural look to a very industrial piece in your yard [source: Graham].
An important point to understand when utilizing creeping vines in your garden is that vines climb in different ways. Considering these differences can help you match the right plant with the appropriate structure. For example, wisteria and clematis attach by twisting their tendrils around a support, whereas English ivy grows aerial roots that can attach to rough surfaces such as walls [sources: Williams, Dana & Lerner].
"Every plant has up sides and down sides, and plant selection is very personal," says Liz Pulver, ASLA, landscape architect licensed in New York and California. "Some people love vines that others would run from."
In this article, we will explore 10 creeping vines and their different characteristics that can help you decide which vine might be the right fit for your garden.
The clematis vine is the quintessential flowering vine that you might have noticed growing up mailbox poles. Clematis are woody vines that can be either evergreen or deciduous. Its large blooms, especially those of the large-flowered hybrids and cultivars, can make a stunning statement in your garden. Keven Graham, ASLA, principal and landscape architect of Planning Resources in Illinois, recommends the Sweet Autumn Clematis, a sun-loving vine with white flowers, along with the Jackman Clematis.
While any clematis can be a wonderful addition to your garden, remember that climate can influence the amount of privacy provided by the plant. "In warmer climates, clematis can offer screening possibilities," says Liz Pulver, ASLA, landscape architect licensed in New York and California. "If you are looking for lots of screening and live in a cooler climate, I'd recommend using clematis as a flowering accent alongside vines which give you fuller vegetative coverage."
Whether you decide to grow them on a pergola or an arbor, clematis need a strong support to wind up because the vines can get very heavy [source: Grey-Wilson & Matthews]. For a healthy and beautiful plant, watch that some varieties don't get especially strong direct sunlight because it can bleach the flowers. Also, watch for clematis wilt, a fungus that can infect the plant.
Climbing up houses or over fences, English ivy is a historic staple when it comes to coverage and privacy. Ivy is an evergreen plant with dark, glossy, green leaves. When mature, it can produce white balls of flowers and black seeds [source: Klingaman]. Ivy can withstand lower temperatures if planted in a sheltered spot, which makes for a good year-round living privacy barrier [source: Glattstein]. It can grow to more than 30 feet (9 meters) and if not properly pruned, can become overwhelming instead of an accent plant in your garden [source: Grey-Wilson & Matthews].
If you're searching for a slightly different look with similar coverage, there are a variety of cultivars with different shapes and colors of leaves, from white-tipped to heart-shaped yellowish green foliage.
For more color, yet still a historic feel, try the next vine, a morning glory.
Morning glories have been popular for more than a century [source: Cook]. Morning glories most commonly produce a funnel-like flower that comes in a variety of colors from a crisp blue to pure white [sources: Cook, Coulter]. In most areas of the country, morning glories are annuals, so you'll lose some of the privacy you may have created with these plants during the winter months. Yet, the unique flower, of which certain varieties open only at dusk or with limited light, may make up for its winter absence [source: Coulter].
Trumpet vines are popular not only for their flowers, but for the wildlife that they attract. The trumpet vine is a perennial vine that climbs using aerial roots that attach to surfaces [source: Dana & Lerner]. These plants like sun and are also very drought-tolerant. The most common variety has orange-red flowers, while other varieties come in yellow. The flowers look like elongated tubes of about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) in length [sources: Lindsey, Cook].
The size and shape of the flowers attract hummingbirds that come to suck the nectar from the plant. In order to get a good view of these small birds, you probably want to place the plant on a lattice next to a deck, near a seating area, or within a good view from a window.
A member of the pea family, wisteria is most recognized for its bunches of light purple blooms that cascade downward from the vine. While purple may be the most recognizable color, wisteria also flowers in white, pink and blue. It's important to note that wisteria can take a couple of years to flower, so don't get discouraged. Plant wisteria in a sunny place that's still sheltered from some of the elements for the best results [source: Grey-Wilson & Matthews].
Wisteria can make a showpiece in many areas of the garden. "It grows quickly, has beautiful flowers and a lovely scent," says Liz Pulver, ASLA, landscape architect licensed in New York and California. "It should be given support and can be easily trained up pergolas, trellises and posts."
You can also festoon wisteria across the top of a fence, allowing the long blossoms to flow over the side.
A popular cutting flower, roses can have a beautiful scent and bloom. As opposed to a bush type of rose, climbing roses not only use their thorns as protection, but also to attach and climb up things. It's important to note that some climbing roses might need to be tied to their supporting items in case of heavy winds. The climbing rose comes in colors ranging from yellow to deep red with names such as Don Juan, Joseph's Coat and Purity. To get a good crop of flowers, make sure to keep roses in soil that is well-drained and in a sunny spot.
There are many ways to use climbing roses to provide privacy in a garden. Create a tunnel with support rods that climbing roses can grow up and around. You could also use climbing roses on an arch for both fragrance and color at the entrance to your yard. Pair climbing roses with clematis and jasmine for a cottage-garden feel.
Like roses, jasmine also has a scent that can be a draw to this plant. The white-flowered vine does well in sunny locations that aren't very dry.
A popular variety is common jasmine. It produces fragrant white flowers that can attract both hummingbirds and butterflies [source: Kluepfel & Polomski]. The majority of other jasmine vines are semi-tropical and should only be planted in the spring, after all chances for frost have passed.
Jasmine twines around objects to climb, meaning that it needs some type of support to raise vertically. Try using jasmine on an arbor or trellis near your home, or along a path where visitors can enjoy the fragrance.
A honeysuckle vine can fill your garden with scent along with a degree of privacy. Make sure you check if the honeysuckle you're choosing is scented because some varieties aren't [source: Williams]. Honeysuckle can be evergreen or deciduous and have thin, elongated flowers ranging from yellow to red. These flowers can also attract wildlife. "Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds all like this vine's flowers," says Liz Pulver, ASLA, landscape architect licensed in New York and California.
When planting honeysuckle, remember that it does best in certain growing conditions. "Honeysuckles like full sun, but prefer shade at the roots," says Pulver.
Keeping in mind these conditions, honeysuckle can make for a fragrant entrance arch into your garden. Honeysuckle can also offer a natural way to hide an old tree stump or fence posts.
Incorporating the passion flower in a residential backyard can give it an exotic feel. The vine produces complex flowers with different colors for the leaves and filaments. While this vine is primarily a tropical plant, there are a few varieties that grow in temperate conditions. One such variety is the blue passion flower, which can be an evergreen climber in temperate conditions.
Another option for warm areas of the United States is the purple passion flower, which is a vine with unique purple or sometimes white flowers. It can also produce a fruit that resembles a yellow egg.
Passion flowers grow by twining tendrils around supports and climbing up them. This means that passion flower vines would work well on trellises, fences or even a shrub for added color and coverage.
Unlike the passion flower, the Virginia creeper is usually grown for its foliage instead of its flowers. The Virginia creeper's leaves will change from a dark green to a deep red color in the fall. Virginia creeper can be mistaken for poison ivy, but instead of three leaves, it has five [source: Klingaman]. Another distinguishing characteristic of the plant is its bluish-black berries. These berries are poisonous to humans, but are very attractive to birds [source: Buncombe County Cooperative Extension].
Virginia creeper also can grow on a lot of different surfaces because it clings to surfaces with adhesive extensions. "It's very aggressive; as it grows, it clings onto everything," says Keven Graham, ASLA, principal and landscape architect of Planning Resources in Illinois.
Virginia creeper is a good choice for hiding an unsightly fence or climbing up a vertical wall as a barrier.
Whether growing Virginia creeper on a fence or large-flowered clematis on a lattice beside your deck, vines can provide a beautiful and functional way to provide privacy in your garden.
Lots of trees are losing their leaves this time of the year. But evergreens keep theirs year-round. What gives? HowStuffWorks explains the difference.
- Buncombe County Cooperative Extension. Buncombe County News. "Spotlight: Virginia Creeper." (October 22, 2009)http://www.buncombecounty.org/news_Detail.asp?newsID=8134
- Cook, Ferris. The Garden Trellis: Designs to Build and Vines to Cultivate. Artisan, New York. 1996.
- Coulter, Lynn. Gardening with Heirloom Seeds. The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2006.
- Dana, Michael N. and B. Rosie Lerner. Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, Department of Horticulture. "Annual and Perennial Vines." November 2002.
- (October 10, 2009)http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-21.pdf
- Gilman, Edward. Environmental Horticulture Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Services, University of Florida. "Parthenocissus quinquefolia Virginia Creeper." October 1999. (October 22, 2009)http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/FP454
- Glattstein, Judy. Garden Design with Foliage. Storey Communications, Inc., Vermont, 1991.
- Graham, Keven. ASLA. Principal and landscape architect for Planning Resources in Wheaton, Illinois. Personal interview. October 22, 2009.
- Grey-Wilson, Christopher and Victoria Matthews. Gardening with Climbers. Timber Press, Oregon, 1997.
- Immel, Diana. U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. "Plant Guide: Purple Passionflower." (October 26, 2009)http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_pain6.pdf
- Klingaman, Gerald. University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. Ornamentals Extension News. "Plant of the Week: English Ivy." December 1, 2000.http://www.arhomeandgarden.org/plantoftheweek/articles/English_Ivy.htm
- Klingaman, Gerald. University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. Ornamentals Extension News. "Plant of the Week: Trumpet Creeper, Trumpet Vine." June 30, 2000. (October 22, 2009)http://www.arhomeandgarden.org/plantoftheweek/articles/Trumpet_Creeper.htm
- Klingaman, Gerald. University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. Ornamentals Extension News. "Plant of the Week: Virginia Creeper." September 7, 2001. (October 26, 2009)http://www.arhomeandgarden.org/plantoftheweek/articles/Virginia_creeper.htm
- Kluepfel, Marjan and Bob Polomski. Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service. September 1999. (October 26, 2009)http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/landscape/groundcovers/hgic1106.html
- Lindsey, Shirley. Penn State Cooperative Extension, Adams County. "Vines: The Gymnasts of the Garden." July 30, 2009. (October 22, 2009)http://adams.extension.psu.edu/Horticulture/MGarticles/Vines.htm
- Martin, Jane. Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet. "Growing Wisteria." (October 19, 2009)http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1246.html
- Pulver, Liz. ASLA. Landscape architect licensed in New York and California. Personal correspondence. October 24, 2009.
- Robson, Mary. Washington State University Extension. "Morning Glories: Beauty and the Beast." May 12, 2002.http://gardening.wsu.edu/Column/05-12-02.htm
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Beneficial Landscaping--Invasive Plants." October 16, 2009. (October 19, 2009)http://yosemite.epa.gov/r10/ECOCOMM.NSF/Beneficial+Landscaping/BL+Invasive+Plants
- Valder, Peter. Wisterias. Timber Press Inc., Oregon, 1995.
- Warner, Christopher. Climbing Roses. The Globe Pequot Press, Connecticut, 1987.
- Williams, Paul. Creative Climbers. Trafalgar Square Publishing, Vermont, 1999.