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Planting the right crawler will minimize problems

POSTED: July 27, 2012 1:30 a.m.
/Associated Press

Flowering vines, like these roses, need trellises and room to breathe. And remember to stay vigilant when it comes to pruning or a vine will smother the garden.

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In a quest for getting more value from their homes, many folks are no longer content with having a plain backyard. Instead they’re looking for outdoor living spaces with a cohesive theme and look.

That redesign likely includes some variation of an arbor, trellis or pergola. With those towering fixtures, many green thumbs get the itch to plant a flowering vine or two.

They can enhance the landscape with fragrance, provide shade and screen unsightly views, but be careful which varieties you choose. Some vines can be thugs.Vines are vigorous growers, which can be both good and bad for impatient gardeners.

And many a homeowner can be lured by the intoxicating scent of jasmines and honeysuckle. But planter beware: They can take over quickly.

Fast-growing varieties provide thick barriers that screen well-tended yards from unpleasant backdrops. But they also might overwhelm narrow planting beds and spread beyond their intended sites.

That means constant monitoring and frequent pruning.

"Being rapid (in growth) is one thing," said Bob Polomski, a horticulturist and arborist at Clemson University in Clemson, S.C.

"Being invasive is another. (English) ivy can take over as a ground cover and wisteria can grow so quickly and its vines become so thick that it can destroy a small (pergola or trellis). They get so heavy that they can even take down trees."

According to researchers with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, American wisteria is a safer choice for arbors and other structures because it isn’t as aggressive or invasive as other exotic varieties.

Before planting your vines, weigh aesthetic value and practicality equally. "Wisteria produces beautiful blooms, but that attracts bees. Putting chairs and tables beneath a flowering arbor can invite stings and creepy crawly things," Polomski said.

"Putting vines around mailboxes may not be such a great idea for mail carriers, either — especially when you have all those pollinators flying around."

None of which should discourage property owners from adding vines to their landscape. They simply need to plan first.

Vines climb in different ways, which may help determine which variety to choose: clinging, twining or sprawling.

Clinging vines, such as Virginia creeper, trumpet vines and ivy, have adhesive tendrils or rootlets that hold them to flat surfaces as they grow. That can make them difficult and even damaging to remove if the vines are attached to shingles or wood siding.

Twining vines, such as clematis, jasmine, wisteria and morning glories, spiral upward, looping around poles, latticework or fences. Roses, bougainvillea and sweet peas are sprawling plants that often must be tied to a trellis, especially when getting started.

Be sure to set freestanding trellises a few inches away from structures to give vines space to breathe to prevent mold and decay.

And when choosing a support system for your vines, be sure to go for something that’s built to last because vines can live for decades and grow heavy with age.

Associated Press contributed to this article.



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