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Downpipe Greening

Because downspout gutters (drainpipes) can be considered unsightly, they are often greened as well. In this section, you can learn about the possibilities and also which wire rope solutions FassadenGrün offers. Annuals are appropriate, as are slightly to moderately vigorous perennial climbers. Only the 'powerhouses' -- wisteria, fleece vine, bittersweet, and possibly kiwi-- should be ruled out for a downpipe. In special cases, gutters can be greened directly, (that is, without additional climbing support), but in most cases, support ropes are recommended. The information in this section applies also to lightning conductors, ventilation pipes, etc..

Downpipe with crimson glory vine
Downpipe with crimson glory vine

A cable parallel to the downpipe

The easiest way to green a drainpipe with climbing aids is to flank it with wire rope, as per cable system 1040. This emphasises the vertical lines. Often a lower rope (as with system 1020 or 1030) is sufficient; together with the downpipe and the clamps, it can create an attractive climbing field and stabilise the greenery (from wind, etc..). If there is enough space on both sides of the pipe, two ropes can be mounted, which is optimal. See below.

Suitable climbing plants

For such a greening, we recommend plants with 'soft shoots' like these continuous bloomersdipladenia/mandevillaclematis viticella, clematis tangutica, rambler roses, and winter jasmine, which interweave quickly in front and behind the gutter and twine the pipe upwards. Also suitable are: Dutchman's pipe, hops and leaf akebia vine, and if you want the foliage to be more lush and abundant, go with: trumpet vinegrapevine, and various 'wild vines.' Potted plants are also a great choice since the growth of the plant and its foliar mass will be limited by the trapped root system-- requiring less maintenance and care. If you do not plant to prune the plant every year, it is a good idea to have the wire rope end about 1m below the roof edge to prevent shoots from climbing over or getting caught.

Drainpipes greened with hops and others
Greened Drainpipe in Quedlinburg / Saxony-Anhalt
Dutchman's pipe, cable system 1030 to the right of the drainpipe
A drainpipe greened with Dutchman's Pipe
Dutchman's pipe, cable system 1040 mounted to the right of the drainpipe
A drainpipe greened with Dutchman's pipe
Dutchman's pipe in winter. For insulated walls, where the installation is more complex, stabilising climbing wires can also be attached to the downpipe clamps on the pipe. Here two (green) wires on the right and left of the pipe were attached.
Climbing wire on a drainpipe, Dutchman's pipe
Annual morning glory, wire-rope on the right next to the drainpipe
Drainpipe trellis with Morning Glory
Cable system 1040, FassedenGrün's simple kit, hops
Drainpipe greening with hops
Clematis
Greening on a drainpipe with clematis
Clematis tangutica. Here a wire-cable is drawn between the two drainpipes; the shoots and tendrils are woven around the wire and pipes; the existing wall clamps are used as slip protection.
Greening a drainpipe with clematis tangutica

Several parallel cables

Installing two parallel cables -- one to the right and one to the left of the downpipe-- is particularly effective. Such an arrangement insures that even in strong winds, abundant vegetation can be held in place and will bear the majority of the load without the risk of the downspout fixtures being pulled from the wall. The often very light fittings of the drainpipe are not meant to absorb additional loads, like greenery. Alternatively, 2 vertical ropes can be mounted on one side, closely beside the downpipe. Rope systems like 4010, 4020 and 7010 are best suited for this.

An alternative to cables: wall lattices/grids

Lattices/grids are an alternative for creating lush greening around and on your downspout. A lattice can be mounted to the wall with four or six attachment points, thus relieving the downpipe clamps of the heavy plant weight. One must check in each individual case whether such lattices are an aesthetic advantage for the wall or whether the discreetness of wire ropes are more effective.

Grapevines, climbing ropes in our massive design
A greened drainpipe with vines
Clematis viticella, 2 supporting wire-ropes
Greening of a drainpipe with clematis viticella, 2 flanking wire-cable supports
Dutchman's Pipe, proliferation in spring, 2 parallel wires to the right of the drainpipe
Drainpipe greening with Dutchman's Pipe
Red star, drainpipe lattice with a separate wall fastening
Red star at Drainpipe
Drainpipe lattices with a separate wall fastening
Drainpipe lattice

Direct greening on downpipes and possible structural damage

With annual plants and also with hops, downpipes can sometimes be greened directly, as the graceful climbing plants wind themselves around the pipe and find support at the clamps (or can be tied there). An accompanying wire rope as described above is always helpful, so that the shoots are better stabilised when the wind blows. It is also possible to put the shoots of climbing plants behind a drainpipe or twine them around it. Make certain that thick shoots do not push away the pipe, and that sensitive plaster on insulated house walls will not be scratched.

 

Climbing plants with a lot of leaf mass, however, can lead to the loosening of the generally light downpipe fittings when there are strong winds. In cases where the facade has direct contact with perennial plants, regular maintenance is needed to prevent structural damage. In particular, the condition of the pipe clamps must be checked periodically, since strong secondary shoots must be trimmed or removed before they pull the pipe from the wall. Drainpipe clamps are often not very sturdy, especially on insulated/stucco walls. We highly recommend the installation of support cables in theses cases.

Very risky: akebia with substantial leaf growth coiling directly around the drainpipe
Drainpipe with akebia, greening in Bansin / Usedom / Mecklenburg-Hither Pomerania
Firethorn, shoots attach partly behind the drainpipe
Drainpipe with Firethorn
Direct greening-- morning glory
Drainpipe greening with morning glory
Direct greening with hops
Greening a gutter with hops
Direct greening with annuals (here 'morning glory' and 'scarlet runners') also can develop luxuriant leaf mass and thus provoke higher wind loads.
Direct greening of drainpipe in Altenburg / Thuringia
Direct greening, Dutchman's pipe
Pipe greening with Dutchman's pipe
Climbing roses shoots attached behind the drainpipe
Drainpipe greening with roses in Weimar/ Thuringia
An unplanned wild Clematis vitalba has found its way to this drainpipe and 'taken over'
Greening of a drainpipe in Meißen / Saxony

Light-weight trellises on the downpipe

The mounting of a light-weight trellis directly on the drainpipe is possible, but is a special case, as structural damage is still possible here when the greening is full or vigorous. Such a greening is most promising in the base area with low-growing potted plants. Hardware-store standard downpipe trellises-- made from aluminum wire or galvanised / plastic-coated steel wire-- are then suitable. They are available both in angled and curved forms for drainpipes and are fastened directly to the drainpipe.

Climbing rose in a pot
Drainpipe with wire (trellis) grid
Brown-eyed Susan on a simple lattice
Attachment of a climbing aid to a drainpipe
Simple but effective and attractive solution: clematis in a pot and standard hardware store "drainpipe trellis"
Drainpipe with trellis
Annual climber and special modular trellis on the downpipe. The amount of the resulting leaf mass on the downpipe must be considered.
Drainpipe with climbing grid - drainpipe trellis
Special case: an artistic ladder trellis made of wood for Clematis montana
Climbing ladder for clematis in Ahlbeck / Usedom / Mecklenburg-Hither Pomerania