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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.


Greening of a courtyard gate with morning glory
Morning glory, Großjena an der Unstrut/ Saxony-Anhalt
Pillar with climbing cable for an annual cathedral bell vine
Pillar with climbing cable for (annual) Cathedral Bells, Weimar / Thuringia
Roses on a pillar as per system 1020, in our medium style
Designing a pillar with wire rope to become a 'trellis pillar' for roses
Several cable systems 4020, Easy Kit as push-through installation
Greened pillars
Grapevine trellised on a column, somewhat overgrown; small trellis form
Greening a pillar with grapevine
Aristolchia tomentosa (Dutchman's pipe) on a concrete column- stainless steel cable with small eyelet bolts
Growth pilllar, Aristolochia (Dutchman's Pipe), International Style, Weimar / Thuringia
Climbing rose on a cable trellis, similar to our 4010 system
Greening of a pillar, Gründerzeit-house in Leipzig / Saxony

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.

Akebia in the castle grounds Sanssouci/Potsdam: Baroque colonnade; the columns have been covered with climbing wire for ca. 200 years.
Greened columns in castle Sanssouci / Potsdam / Brandenburg
Wisteria on a concrete column, fastened only with velcro strip
Wisteria on concrete pillar
Wisteria, below attached to the concrete support only with binding material, led to the top on the horizontal wire as per system 1060.
Plants on the balcony
Greening with wild vines: one climbing wire on each column is suitable, as per system 1020.
Greening of wooden pillars, castle Tiefurt near Weimar / Thuringia
Small kiwi, climbing support with 2x system 1030, easy construction style
Climbing support, greened with kiwi
Colonnade greened with fruitless grapevines on stainless steel cables
Fruitless grapevines on steel cables greening a colonnade
Interior view of the collonade (arbour) from photo to the left
Greened colonnade, grapeless vines
Greened arcades on the courtyard side of housing estates; the kiwi plants were raised on steel beams.
Arcade greened with kiwi

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.

Akebia on balcony supports made of wood: two cables as per system 1050, here in our medium style
Greening of a balcony support
Climbing poles with wisteria on a workshop in Quedlinburg / Sachsen-Anhalt
Poles trellised with wisteria on a workshop in Quedlinburg / Sachsen-Anhalt
Our massive mounts (cross mount WM 12153) create more space between the trellis cable and pillar and are a good fit for particularly representative installations (here in a spa garden).
Posts turned into a trellis for roses for a spa garden
Pillars greened with honeysuckle on the walkway of a parking garage
Greened columns
You may encounter trellis columns which are insulated, in which case a mount like WM 12XX2 is needed. Bittersweet
A greened insulated pillar