Climbers are versatile plants that can often serve the same purpose as shrubs, while using less space. If you have a small garden, climbers can be used to hide walls, or fence off boundaries, without spreading into the limited space of the garden. Climbers can also be used to provide shelter or shade by enclosing structures, such as shadehouses, pergolas and arbours. They are also a cheap and easy way to cover up something unsightly, such as a shed or water tank, or to soften a harsh wall, fence or tree trunk. Many have very attractive flowers or foliage.
The only major problems are that, if left uncontrolled, some rampant climbers can block drain pipes or gutters on buildings, while some can do serious damage to the structure (or tree) they are clinging to. Some climbers cause less damage than others, but no matter what you use, you should check for damage every few years, and trim back the climber if need be. If you are worried about climbers causing damage, ones to avoid are those such as Hedera (ivy) and Ficus pumila which cling to even smooth surfaces such as a concrete wall, and can eventually grow into small cracks in the wall then expand enlarging those cracks.
Most climbers need something to climb on. You can use materials such as trellis, wire mesh, single wires or nylon strings (not jute -that will rot).
These can be readily attached to:
- A fence or wall. A climber on a wall will create a softer appearance and help reduce temperature extremes (eg: keeping the garden cooler on a hot day).
- The supports or roof of a pergola, arbour or archway.
- Between two posts.
- A frame made of galvanised water pipe, or similar material.
- Climbers can also be allowed to climb other plants, or even to scramble over rocks, tree stumps or logs.
Getting the Best Plant for the Situation always needs to be your goal!
By having a good choice of plants, you avoid problems later on (eg. plants becoming invasive, destroying structures, harbouring pests, dying prematurely, etc). A poor choice of plants can cost you a lot in both time and money!
How To Choose the Best Plant?
You need to know the site, the needs of the property owner; and apply that knowledge to a very good knowledge of plants, being able to identify different types and know how they grow in different situations.
For more information on this, why download an ebook or study with ACS?
Or a course on Designing and developing Green Walls