Columns -- greening vertical elements of a building

Can you green vertical load-bearing elements of a building-- columns, pillars, balcony supports, props, building supports, posts of a pergola..? Of course! Some climbers can completely cover a column with foliage. Wire ropes are ideal as a climbing aid on such vertically-oriented building components and can support almost any climber in reaching full coverage; and because they are so discreet, they'll also give the impression that the greening was created naturally... that is, by chance. *Note: non load-bearing (that is, free-standing) vertical elements-- street lamps, masts and other posts are addressed in a separate section.

Greened arcade columns in Goslar / Niedersachsen

Green columns - one storey high

Scenario 1: you want to green only the column and not the area above or around it. In this case, you'll want to choose climbers with a growth habit that is slow or easily tamed: various annuals (continuous bloomers)mandevilla, clematis, rose or grapevine... the latter as a vertical cordon or small espalier.

Columns typically do not like being drilled into; where possible, go with light individual attachment points as per cable system 1010, or vertical arrangments as with systems 1020 and 1030. Depending on the desired effect (one-sided or circumferential greening), set 1-5 parallel ropes per column. In the case of angular cable arrangements with a larger width, more than one rope can be tensioned per area-- cable system 4020 is appropriate. For questions about mounting, see below.


Trellising the plant beyond the column

Scenario 2: you want the climber to cover an additional area beyond that of just the column. This can mean: the wall area above a support, a pergola, a balcony, or that the greening will take place primarily in the upper area and the column only serves to guide the shoot structure of the climbing plant upwards. A vertical rope 1020 or 1030 is usually sufficient as a climbing aid; sometimes even our simple style suffices. Combination systems like 9010 and 9020 can be used here. If there is a wall offset/overhang, vertical and horizontal ropes should be laid separately.


An alternative to wire rope systems is to attach the plant directly to the column using velcro ties or rubber strip.


Similar examples can be found under balcony greening.

Greening multiple levels (storeys)

By guiding the cables along a column (or other vertical support on your building), you can easily guide the plant upward to significant heights. Several balconies or entire pergolas/arcades can thus be greened. Attachment along the vertical elements can be relieved (less stressed) if the plants are also fastened laterally to balcony parapets, etc..


How long should the cable mounts (screws) be? In other words, what is the optimal distance between wire ropes and a column? This pesky question was often solved pragmatically in the past-- no distance! The wires were laid very close to the columns. Easy Kits from FassadenGrün, which are usually sufficient for columns, minimise the distance and correspond to this older method. Medium or Heavy Kits (which create more distance) may be needed from time to time; even a massive construction style is possible for representative or design reasons. 


The choice of attachment depends on the selected plant species and the subsurface/wall type. Concrete, for example, requires special treatment to avoid drilling into steel reinforcement. Generally speaking though, anchors that do not protrude too much from the surface of the pillar are preferable.

Climbing poles with wisteria on a workshop in Quedlinburg / Sachsen-Anhalt
Poles trellised with wisteria on a workshop in Quedlinburg / Sachsen-Anhalt