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Fence Greening with Climbing Plants

Here you'll find tips for greening a fence, partition, railing, or enclosure (i.e. for rubbish bins). This kind of greening not only beautifies but also can serve as a privacy screen. Some fences are intended for greening right from the start and are planned accordingly. Others are greened years later, often requiring additional climbing-plant support systems. Below are three possibilities for mounting trellis cables.

Fence greened with climbing plants, Wilhelm Trübner, 1912

Which climbing plants for a fence?

Many climbing plants are compatible with fence greening (see photo gallery below). Even espalier fruit and grapevines can be trellised here-- the latter usually trained as horizontal cordons, vertical cordonsgarlands, or in vineyard style. Low-maintenance wild vines are suitable, and mixed greening (greening with various climbing plants simultaneously) is also a possibility. Additional recommendations can be found in the section dedicated to plant privacy screens. Vigorous climbers and strong twiners like wisteria and silver lace vine can only be used to a limited extent; if they grow unchecked, structural damage can be expected -- these plants are known to bend even iron railings! Wire mesh and metal netting would, of course, then be even more vulnerable.

Wooden fences

Additional climbing aids are recommended when greening wooden fences. Horizontal ropes with parallel rope guidance are particularly suitable; see photos below. 

Granite steles with wire rope

This is a modern but daring combination. Horizontal wire ropes are susceptible to being climbed, which can then cause them to sag or be ripped from their mounts, or cause the fence steles to tip. But for private gardens, this arrangement can really work.


Privacy protection fence with English ivy
Privacy protection fence with English ivy (Hedera helix)
Fence with sweet-peas as privacy screen
Fence with sweet-peas as privacy screen

Suitable Climbing Plants

Fences with various climbing plants-- please click on the photos.

Hops provide an early privacy screen in spring
Fence greening with annual morning glory
Roses on a fence
Planting of scarlet runner beans on an iron fence
Fence greenery with akebia quinata
This fence is completely covered with wild vines every summer; the posts create green 'hillocks.'
Wisteria on a railing
Railing greened with grapevines
Schematic of a fence greening: horizontal grapevine cordons (see section-- 'Climbing Plants / Grapevines / Training')
Schematic of vertical grapevine cordons on a fence (see 'Climbing Plants / Grapevines / Training')
Lattice fence for vines trained vineyard style, winter photo
Vine garland greening a wire mesh fence
Espalier fruit (apple) on a fence after the winter pruning
Wild vine with numerous blossoms on a wrought-iron fence
Fence greened with Clematis tangutica
A wire mesh fence with Clematis viticella
Winter jasmine in snow
Evergreen honeysuckle in winter
Fence greening with several plants ('mixed greening'): ivy below, wild vine in the middle, crimson glory vine at the top
Metal lattice enclosure for rubbish bins - evergreen honeysuckle
Should be checked regularly to avoid building damage: bittersweet as a 'screen' for rubbish area
Stainless steel trellis grid with ivy at a bus stop

Tangential Cable Guidance

Climbing aids are often attached 'tangentially' -- that is, to the outside or side of the fence, as if the fence were a wall. Horizontal wire rope arrangements similar to system 1060 are usually used.

Greening of a plank-fence with roses (et al.) on horizontal steel cables, easy style "basic"
Climbing aid for clematis on a privacy fence-- wire rope system 5050, easy style "mini"
Wooden fence with grapevines, budding in spring-- vineyard style training with flat arch. The 3mm wire ropes were led through staple nails glued in with composite mortar and tensioned diagonally downwards at the end of the fence.
The same wooden fence as in previous photo; here greened with winter jasmine
Anchoring of the five wire ropes in the photos from before; they lead to a hidden ground anchor (EA 12800).
Natural stone (granite) pillars with inner, tangential cable guidance, bamboo
Detail to previous photo; several horizontal wire ropes per system 1060, medium kit with cross mounts 10081
If the cables are exposed to extreme loads (vandalism, climbing), they will slide out of the mounts without damaging the mount itself. The cables can be re-tensioned later on.
Terrace partition in a private area for roses: ring bolts were inserted and screwed into the "T"-shaped steel profiles and wood panelling, system 0040.

Axial Cable Guidance

When ropes are used to fill in the space of a fence, they usually run along the central axis ('axial') of wooden or metal posts (viewed from above)-- in the same way as wire frames or rope system 0050.

Interrupted axial cable guidance: post to post

Some fence posts cannot be drilled through, in which case the ropes run axially from post to post on small sealed-in eyebolts (WM 06030) per system 0040.

Wire ropes tensioned between two posts, similar to special system 0040: here the assembler used a metal rod at the top between the posts as reinforcement.
Cables tensioned between granite steles, clematis; loads exerted on the pillars may lead to a bending fracture. They should be structurally checked beforehand. In such cases: half of the break load for every cable is recommended.
Detail to the previous photo: the eyebolts WM 06030 were installed with brass rawl plugs (dowels) DM 06025.
Seilverspannung mit 5 x Seilsystem 0040, dazu senkrechte Seile, mit Kreuzklemmen schlaff aufgeklemmt gemäß Seilsystem 5050.
Cable trellis construction with tightly tensioned horizontal cables, eye bolts WH 07080, and mini press clamps SK 03006
Horizontal ropes (in public spaces) are prone to being climbed. The resulting tension may lead to the disfiguring of the granite pillars (displacement) and to the slackening of the wire ropes.
Or you could just not tension the cables at all (!) - like here with these barrier chains featuring Virginia creeper, castle garden Sanssouci / Potsdam / Brandenburg  ;)