June 26, 2017

The vine occupies a unique place among plants. Instead of relying on their own fiber to provide support, they make use of any nearby structure to guide them upward while they grab hold with either tendrils or rootlets.


This exceptional characteristic actually makes them beneficial for certain jobs in the yard such as these:

  • Shade
  • Privacy
  • Protection
  • Beautification
  • Fruit


Tall trees might be able to cast shade, but they consume a fair amount of space and pose a risk of falling on the nearest building. Vines eliminate these problems while still providing shade that matches the changing temperatures of the growing season. Man-made structures, like awnings, don’t compensate for the lag between the sun’s angle in the sky and actual temperatures. These plants won’t block out the sun until it’s warm enough in the area to bring out their leaves. The leaves will still be there when the sun is low on those warm autumn days.



The big advantage of a vine over a shrub (for creating privacy) is its growth habit takes up less depth in the yard. By hugging a fence or trellis, vines leave more room for other things. It’s important to pair the right vine with the right fence material though. Wooden fences work best with annuals, like morning glories and moonflowers, that doesn’t hold much moisture against them. Metal and vinyl fences have more options such as perennial clematis or trumpet vine.



Between the tendrils, rootlets, and the twining stems themselves, it might seem like these plants could create problems as they scale walls. They potentially can, if the walls in question already have cracks and gaps that they could invade. For properly maintained buildings, vines can actually do just the opposite. Their shade creates a comparatively stable temperature zone next to the wall. There are less expansion and contraction to cause fissures. Also, the covering of leaves blocks some of the UV sunlight that can damage a home’s exterior.



Not every wall that a vine ascends is necessarily attractive. A plain chain link fence or a concrete wall can be an eyesore. A vine supplies a natural solution to this problem and it doesn’t demand as much care. Flowering vines take things further with beautiful flowers and by attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.


It often takes a ladder to reach a fruit tree’s offerings. Strawberries and blueberries in the Ann Arbor Michigan region require serious stooping over. With a vine, good pruning keeps the fruit-bearing canes at just the right height. On top of this, a normally trained vine assumes a relatively two-dimensional form that keeps the harvest within arm’s reach.


As these examples demonstrate, whether it’s a Fruiting Grape or a Hardy Kiwi Vine, a durable Virginia Creeper or a fragrant Honeysuckle, these plants offer a versatility no other kind can match. With spring coming, it’s a good time to determine where they can enhance your landscape.