What You'll Learn

  1. Fencing
  2. Trees and Shrubs
  3. Vines
Vines provide a living screen and occupy very little ground space. They are especially useful when you need to divide a narrow space or create a barrier that won't get in the way of foot traffic. Vines represent a good value for your money. A vigorous vine, such as golden hops or silver lace vine, costs about $20 in a 1-gal. container, and it can cover 20 ft. in just a year or two. These and other fast-growing vines make a young landscape appear full and mature. Vines turn even the most ordinary fence into a graceful backdrop of flowers and greenery. And when grown over an arbor, woody vines like wisteria and grape are an attractive way to block views from above into your yard, and at the same time they provide cooling shade. Disadvantages
All vines need some sort of structure—a fence, trellis or arbor—on which to climb. Clinging vines, such as climbing hydrangea and Boston ivy, hold tight with suction cups or little rootlets, making these plants very difficult to remove from their supports. Clingers also have a deserved reputation for damaging the surface they rely upon for support, especially if it's made of wood. And, any dense vine grown directly on a fence interferes with painting and repairs. Once established, vines can be aggressive. You'll need to keep your pruners sharp and use them freely. Making Vines Work
Carefully select a vine for your purpose and be sure the support is strong enough to bear the weight of the vine. It's no fun to watch a front porch trellis collapse under a big old wisteria in its prime. Just as with trees and shrubs, some vines are evergreen and others are deciduous. A deciduous vine planted over an arbor gives a bit of shade during the summer, but in winter when it loses its leaves, warming sunlight can penetrate. If you wish to break up the monotony of a standard 6-ft. fence without completely smothering it, choose a vine that is both vigorous and easily controlled, such as 'Jackmanii' clematis. This rapid grower reaches 10 to 12 ft. with a profusion of velvety purple summer flowers. Clematis are among vines that climb by coiling their leafstalks around their support. They will scramble up a trellis or open-design fence with just a little prompting. In contrast, a dense-growing vine, such as Boston ivy or silver lace vine, will smother a chain-link fence and create a complete visual barrier in the process. Remember, though, aggressive vines don't slow down with age, so they require plenty of space as well as serious pruning to keep them inbounds. A little privacy in your backyard is one of the rewards of owning a home, and it's not that difficult or expensive to create. A few trees and shrubs, a vine or perhaps a fence can help you make that personal oasis to share with family and friends.
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