By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Glorious Boston ivy blazing in the winter or flamboyant honeysuckle clambering over a wall are sights to see. If you have a brick wall and are in search of a climbing vine to decorate and enhance your home, you not only need to decide the type of vine for a brick wall but consider the health of your house and what method the vine uses to climb. The effect you are trying to achieve is another factor when choosing vines for brick walls. The best vines for brick walls will also depend upon how much work you want to put into the plant.
The classic, elegant effect of ivy on the walls of a stately home is one that many of us wish to mimic. Covering brick walls with vines is also an excellent way to cover up any damage or repaired masonry that doesn’t match. Vigorously growing vines are a natural cover up and add Old World appeal to even a modest rancher.
Make a list of the attributes you are looking for in a wall covering before you purchase and install. Your vines will be with you for a long time and should convey the image you wish to project as well as have the ease of care for which most of us look.
Choosing vines for brick walls should come with a cautionary note. That ivy covered masonry of old was actually damaging. If you needed to remove it to inspect or repair the brick, pulling the ivy could actually damage the mortar. Ivy self-climbs and inserts its roots into any crack or crevasse.
Modern mortar is a bit stronger, but if your brick has any damage a self-climbing vine may not be right for you. Some vines are self-climbing and will have no trouble finding footholds on the surface and in chinks between brick and will do no damage. Still other vines are twining and will need support. No matter which type you choose, the next question is what you are hoping to achieve. Do you want evergreen winter interest, spring glory or summer fruit?
Using climbing vines on brick walls can say something about your home and you. If you are practical and want fruiting vines, a grape or kiwi may be the plant for you. If you want old-fashioned elegance, English ivy or a climbing rose should fit the bill. And if you are covering brick walls with vines to disguise some imperfections, fast growing Virginia creeper or jasmine may be the plant for you. The best vines for brick walls may be a bit subjective, but here are some suggestions:
Before you install any climbing plant, inspect your mortar and bricks first. Vines are fairly permanent and it would be a shame to have to remove them for repairs. If you have a vine that needs support, install that before planting. A trellis, lattice or wires are excellent ways to support non-self-climbing plants.
Consider how much upkeep you want to do. If you have lots of windows on the side that you plant the vine, you may have to prune consistently to keep them free.
Additionally, the speed of growth and potential invasiveness of the vine should be factors. Plants like wisteria can get out of hand without training and pruning. Others, like trumpet vine, may produce numerous babies every season and become a pest.
Using vines as part of the appearance of your home adds a unique signature to your landscape. There are many wonderful plants from which to choose, but choose wisely as this feature of the home is likely to be around a long time.
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Read more about Ornamental Vines General Care
If your garden is backed by a boring or shabby wall, you can easily use the garden itself to cover it up. The wall can be made into an aesthetically pleasing feature instead of an eyesore with these few tips.
If you simply want to add some flare to a boring wall, consider adding some exciting accessories. Add a flat-sculpted frieze and hanging pots, sconces, lanterns, mirrors, or artwork. Pots with a flat side and hanging clip can be bought at many garden supply stores or ordered online. Inside, you can plant a multitude of flowering annuals and perennials, including vines that will eventually cascade down your wall. Strawberries make an excellent hanging plant and offer ruby-red berries as an extra treat.
Horizontal window boxes can be affixed to the top of a wall and planted with flowers or veggies that compliment the garden bed below. Consider hanging picture frames along your wall and painting, or having your children paint, the spaces inside with fanciful artwork in complimentary colors. Or, make your own set of frames to coordinate with your other outdoor decor.
Hanging lights, like strings of lanterns, are both pretty and useful. Also, sconces that hold candles (preferably electric candles for safety reasons) gives secluded ambiance. Candleholders that are easy-to-make include those made from wine bottles or mason jars.
All accessories should be properly fastened to the wall to withstand storms and snows, ideally by drilling bolts into the wall for all external pieces to be hung from.
Trellises attached to the face of the wall will offer a pleasant appearance, especially on walls painted in natural colors. They also provide an excellent way to train vines or draping plants up or down the face of the wall. Anchor trellises in place securely, ideally by drilling eyebolts into the wall. Weak trellises may seem strong enough at first, but in a few years your vine will be much heavier and need extra support.
Tip: "When installing a trellis or lattice in front of your wall for garden vines, keep in mind the type of vine you want to grow. Different types of vines cling to surfaces in different ways. If the trellis chosen is not compatible, the vine will not be able to climb at all. For example, the garden clematis climbs by wrapping its short leaf stems around something. If the structure is thicker than 1/2 inch in diameter, it will be too wide for the clematis to cling to. So, using a thick wooden lattice would not support a clematis. Instead, use a series of wires strung horizontally over the fence or a thin wire trellis,” Rachel Klein, our expert gardening adviser, adds.
Beautiful flowering vines for wall coverage include climbing roses, garden clematis, trumpet vine, and honeysuckle. Vines that bear fruit are plentiful and include the perennial hops and grapes as well as plenty of annual vines including watermelon, cucumber, pumpkin, and zucchini. Wisteria makes a gorgeous perennial vine for maximum coverage but will need a huge amount of support as the vine becomes heavy in its maturity.
Tip: "Many gardeners with an unsightly brick wall to deal with are lured in by beautiful English ivy, which can climb almost any surface and cover it in a matter of months. However, beware of this invasive species. Although only comprised of woody vines, ivy grows quickly and is heavier than it looks. Ivy has been known to completely tear down walls and overhangs. More commonly, it simply opens up holes in the wall, which become a front door for ants and termites. If you plan to use ivy to span a wall, first install sturdy metal screening over the wall that is held in place securely with bolts into the wall and ground. The weight of the ivy will be transferred to this screen and will not be destructive to your home,” Klein cautions.
Ivy self-climbs and inserts its roots into any crack or crevasse. Find more gardening information on Gardening Know How: Keep up to date with all that's happening in and around the garden. Once you have your design down measure out your points and mark on the wall with a pencil. No problem! I tried the nail in clips for brick. Smallgrove-Nurture is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. My Favorite Curtains, Heaters & Great Finds, Front Porch Cleaning, Including Ceiling, steps, DIY Your Own Website – Step by Step, Plant a Seed, All You Really Need To Know About Watering Potted Plants, Speed Dating Questions For You & Your Plants.
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One, drill holes, yes, I know, holes, into the MORTAR. >
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