How to Grow Vines for Privacy Screens

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Block an unpleasant view or give yourself some privacy with a wall of vines. Many different vine species and hybrids can be used. Grow vines that bloom in your favorite color or vines that produce fruit. Consider all the options when choosing which type of vines to grow. Be sure to buy vines that will thrive in the sun exposure and soil conditions where they will be planted.

Deciding Which Vines to Grow

Annual vines grow quickly and are usually cheap but they have to be replanted every year. Perennial vines grow back year after year but they may have to be pruned back several times each year to keep them in bounds. Some deciduous vines develop colorful fall foliage but they do not provide much privacy in late fall and winter. Evergreen vines will provide privacy year round.

Sunlight Requirements

Choose vines that thrive in full sun if the vine will get more than six hours of direct sunlight each day. Vines that grow best in partial sun need four to six hours of direct sunlight while those that grow in partial shade need two to four hours. If the area never gets any direct sunlight, select vines that thrive in the shade.

Soil Requirements

Most vines prefer loam or sandy loam soil but some thrive in sandy soil or clay soil. Fast draining soil is usually best. Test how quickly the soil drains by digging a 1-foot-wide by 1-foot-deep hole, filling it with water twice and checking how long it takes for the water to soak in after the second filling. If the water soaks in within two hours, it is fine. If it takes three hours, mix a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic matter into the top 8 to 10 inches of soil to improve drainage. Aged cow manure, compost and composted pine bark mulch are all good types of organic matter. It can also be mixed into sandy soil to improve water retention.

Suitable Vines

Hybrid clematis vines (Clematis hybrids) are deciduous vines that bloom during the summer. Their flowers can be nearly any color ranging from dark purple and red to pale gray, pink or blue. They are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 to 9 where they grow in partial shade or full sun.

‘Tangerine Beauty’ (Bignonia capreolata ‘Tangerine’) is evergreen in mild-winter climates. In colder climates, the leaves turn burgundy in the fall before dropping off the vine. It blooms in tangerine-orange in the spring and thrives in full sun or partial shade in USDA zones 5 to 9.

Morning glory vines (Ipomoea mauritiana) are perennials in USDA zones 10 to 12. They are grown as annuals in all other zones. Seeds can be purchased each year or collected from the vine each fall. Start the seeds indoors two months before the last expected spring frost then plant them outdoors in full sun two weeks after the last frost. They bloom in pink during the summer and grow to a height of 10 to 15 feet before they are killed by cold weather in the fall.

Warning

  • Avoid aggressive, invasive and potentially destructive vines.

Vines to Avoid

Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis), for example, is an aggressive vine that requires a very sturdy support structure. It is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8 and is considered an invasive species in many areas throughout the eastern United States. Ivy species are often invasive and can damage the outside of painted and brick homes, gutters and power lines. English ivy (Hedera helix), hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9, is considered an invasive species throughout much of the United States.

When to Plant

Plant evergreen vines, perennial bare-root deciduous vines and annual vines in the spring after the last expected frost in cold-winter climates. Plant container-grown perennial vines in the fall about six weeks before the first expected frost in cold climates. In warm-winter climates, plant perennial vines in the fall or winter and annual vines in late winter or early spring when there is no longer any danger of frost.

Planting and Growing Vines

Things You'll Need

  • Trellis
  • Tape measure or ruler
  • Dirt shovel or hand trowel
  • Garden hose or watering can
  • Organic mulch

Step 1

Erect a trellis or support structure before planting the vines. Vinyl or wood trellises can be used. Wood lattice panels provide support for the vine and added privacy. Clinging vines grow better on a rough, wood surface while twining vines grow on nearly any surface, including shrubs and trees. Vines that climb with tendrils grow best on a trellis or lattice panel with narrow spaces between the slats.

Step 2

Plant the vines 6 to 12 inches away from the trellis. Space multiple perennial vines 4 feet apart and annual vines 6 to 8 inches apart. Use a dirt shovel or hand trowel to dig the planting holes two to three times the width of the roots of bare-root vines or root ball of container-grown or balled-and burlapped vines. Position vines in the hole with the crown -- the point where roots meet stem -- is 1/2 inch above the soil surface.

Step 3

Water vines every day or every other day to keep the soil continuously moist for two weeks after planting. Use a garden hose or watering can to water the vines from below the leaves to reduce the possibility of foliage disease. Water them two or three times each week for the remainder of the first year after planting. After one year, water the vines only when the soil dries out, unless the species requires moisture more often.

Step 4

Spread a 2- to 3-inch depth of organic mulch over the soil after planting to reduce moisture loss. This is especially important for clematis vines, which need the mulch to help keep their roots cool. Keep the mulch 2 to 3 inches away from the vine stems.

Step 5

Attach young vines to the support structure as soon as they are long enough to reach. Use plastic coated wires or garden twine. Leave the wires or twine a little loose to prevent injury to the stems. Remove the wires or twine as soon as the stems have twined or attached themselves securely to the support structure.

Tip

  • Unnecessary fertilizer will cause rampant growth and inhibit blooming.

Step 6

Give vines fertilizer only if they are growing slowly or their leaves are unusually pale. Apply fertilizer in late winter or spring when they begin putting on new leaves and stems, if needed. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of granular fertilizer with an analysis of 16-20-0 over 10 square feet of soil around the vine. Do not put fertilizer within 2 to 3 inches of the stems and be careful not to get it on the leaves. Brush or wash the fertilizer off immediately if it accidentally gets on the leaves.

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