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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 Parallel Climbing Rope

The easiest way to green a drainpipe with climbing aids is to flank it with a wire rope in accordance with cable system 1040. This emphasises the vertical lines. Often a lower rope (in accordance with system 1020 or 1030) is sufficient to create an attractive climbing field together with the downpipe and its clamps and to stabilise the greenery against wind. If there is enough space on both sides, two ropes can be installed. See below.

Suitable Climbing Plants

For such a greening, soft-branched plants like these continuous bloomers are a good choice: dipladenia/mandevillaclematis viticella, clematis tangutica, rambler roses and winter jasmine, which interweave quickly in front and behind the gutter and 'twine it' 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 vinegrapevines, and various 'wild vines.' Consider also potted plants; they develop less leaf mass and therefore require less maintenance and careFor plants that are not pruned far back every year, it makes sense to let the climbing rope end about 1 m below the edge of the roof so that the shoots do not manage to climb over the roof.

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 greened drainpipe with Dutchman's Pipe
Dutchman's Pipe, cable system 1040 on the right of the drainpipe
A greened drainpipe with Dutchman's Pipe
Dutchman's Pipe in winter. For insulated walls, where the installation is more complex, stabilising climbing wires can 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, Simple Kit, hops
Greening "drainpipe" 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
Clematis hybrid
Drainpipe-trellis with clematis

Several Parallel Climbing Wires

In the best case scenario, 2 ropes - right and left of the drainpipe - should be installed. Such an arrangement can also insure that with abundant vegetation and strong winds, the heavy plant loads on the masonry will hold up and not pull out the anchors of the drainpipe fixtures. The light fixtures/anchors of the drainpipe are not, as a rule, meant to absorb additional heavy loads of greening. A greening system with 2 vertical ropes on one side can also be placed closely beside the gutter-pipe. Rope systems like 4010, 4020 and 7010 are best suited for this.

Wall Lattice as an Alternative to Wire Ropes

Lattices/grids are another alternative for creating lush greening. A lattice can be fastened separately 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 your wall or whether flanking ropes are more effective.

Grapevines, climbing ropes in massive construction
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.

 

Greening with a lot of leaf mass, however, can lead to the loosening of anchors/fixtures 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.

Dangerous: Akebia with a firm foliage development coiling directly around the drainpipe
Drainpipe with Akebia, Greening in Bansin / Usedom / Mecklenburg-Hither Pomerania
Firethorn, sprouts 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, sprouting behind the drainpipe
Drainpipe greening with roses in Weimar/ Thuringia
Clematis vitalba has taken over a drainpipe as a strong growing wild plant.
Greening of a drainpipe in Meißen / Saxony

Light Weight Trellises on the Drainpipe

A special case for the greening described above is the attachchment of light-weight trellises directly on the drainpipe. Be aware-- structural damage is even possible here when there is full vegetation. Such a greening works best at the base area with slow-growing potted plants. Hardware store standard 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 can be observed.
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