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Tensioning Wire Ropes as Trellises: Planning

When are tension cables or wire ropes (tightly mounted steel cables) as plant supports useful? How important is the distance from the wall? Which wire rope arrangement is suitable when? What 'design' is recommended? Which is better: a component kit or your own compilation? Is every surface suitable? You can find answers here to these questions, as well as other tips on choosing a suitable climbing assistance in cable-clamping technology. Stainless steel is recommended; otherwise, expect damage and rust with a lesser quality metal.

Cable-system as climbing aid for hops

The Use of Tensioning Cables

Wire rope can have different purposes, depending on the climbing plant's growth type. At first, they work as a ladder for young shoots to grab hold of and climb. The so called "twining plants" twine and twist their shoots directly around the cable. A permanent entwining is only recommended for light or medium twining plants. Vigorous twining plants, however, need to be lead parallel to the wire rope strands, as described with wisteria.

Old and shrubby plants are fixed and tied to the cables. At times the cables are used as a stencil, and the plant is strictly guided along those lines. Wires are also used as fall protection for self climbing plants, such as ivy. Please note the photo gallery below.

Almost anybody can build a greening support system

In front of or Behind the Support System?

If possible, plants should always be lead on or in front of the supporting system. For this, the branch work and vines of climbing plants are built up on top of/in front of the system. The older vines and branches are tied and bound on to the supporting wires. The respective vine should not be allowed to grow around or behind a supporting wire rope.

Only with fall protection systems does the plant need to interweave with the wire ropes and may grow behind them. Young, green shoots can be stuck behind ropes, but only if they do not grow out to be part of the sturdy and heavy plant structure. They are then removed during the trimming or pruning periods.

Pinning cable for climbing hydrangea
Pinning cable for climbing hydrangea winter picture

Wall Clearance

Wall distance growth aids should help the plants to grow up and provide them with sufficient distance from the wall. This is often overrated and leads to 'menacing' cable tension techniques. Why? What is important in the early growing phase, later plays only a minor role. Older plants catch, entwine, and anchor themselves with the growth of shoots and are no longer really dependent on a "growth aid." You can find more about it in the individual climbing plants section.

Wire cable as a climbing assistance. Here climbing cables for clematis on a concrete retaining wall of the German Train railway. Heavy construction system of stainless steel cables.
Wire cable as a climbing assistance. Here climbing cables for clematis on a concrete retaining wall of the German Train railway. Heavy construction system of stainless steel cables

Growing Aids on Building Corners

If plants are to be led or helped around building corners, 2 separate growing aids have to be placed on every wall. The gap is bridged with the vines' own shoots. Stouter shoots can also be led around the corner. The same goes for leading edges and ledges.

Tension cable tech.: tension cables for Honeysuckle

Single Strands or Net Formation?

Some plants, like wisteria, are often only guided on one wire because the cut and care is easier. Flat structures, however, make more sense with most other plants. A question arises: shall the tension line be a single wire, arranged parallel to the plant, or are lattices or “nets” better? For architectural reasons, it is sometimes necessary to arrange individual cable strands parallel to one another, without cross-links. This applies to both horizontal and vertical lines alike. Such trellises are leaner, more pleasing, and can possibly provide better support with their lines in the design language of the building. For the plants, however, lattice structures offer more 'grip' and are therefore preferable. In the wire rope systems section, you can see both options.

Support system as a privacy screen with plants
Support system as a privacy screen with plants

Choice of cable system

Ideally, you already know what sort of plant will grow on your façade. Then go to the respective climbing plant page and choose an arrangement fitting to your situation, a so-called "wire rope system" made of stainless steel. The next step is to choose a construction style.

If for some reason the choice of plant cannot be made, there are some universally usable systems such as 1030, 4030, 5030, 5040, 7020, 7050, or 8010. These are suited for a good number of plants, but not for vigorous twining plants such as wisteria.

Different wire rope systems

Tensioned wire ropes in multiple styles

A word in advance: for climbing plant support systems, there is no real alternative to stainless steel. Other material often causes damage of some sort. Wire rope technology from FassadenGrün is exclusively made of high grade stainless steel. We offer five different construction designs: easy, light, medium, heavy, and massive. Basically, all of our pre-assembled wire rope systems are available in these five styles, classifying them into different forms of design, wall distance, load capacity and price. Which style fits to which climbing plant is shown on the climbing plant pages.

Mount for greening support systems

Kit or Composition of One's Own?

Many applications can be satisfied by FassadenGrün with the purchase of ready-made kits, as opposed to buying a collection of individual parts. Such pre-assembled cable sets are suitable for all wall types with the exception of: insulated walls (ETICS), cladding, and thin-walled concrete elements. Alternatives can be found for these cases. Very big greening fields should and can be grouped into several smaller fields, next to each other. This makes the use of standardized wire rope systems easier.

When necessary, you can also modify and maximize basic turfing formats by ordering components in addition to kits. Let FassadenGrün advise you on how to broaden and enlarge a greening. If you don’t see your solution, you can then look in the overview of Climbing Plants. You may find preferred arrangements for many cases; whether you want more dense or spartan, horizontal, or vertical forms. With this knowledge, you can put your own original sets together in the "Individual Parts" section. The mounts themselves should have approximately the same wall distances as a comparable wire rope system.

Parts for simple support systems

Preventing Damage

Some climbing plants can cause considerable damage to buildings or wire rope systems. Please, try to prevent this! Vigorous climbing plants, such as wisteria, need special attention, especially on wire rope support systems.

Wisteria: Bad idea! This corkscrew form will eventually deform and overstretch the wire rope the thicker and older the stem gets.
Wire rope deformation

Application scenarios

Here you will see how diverse wire ropes of stainless steel can be used as greening support grids. Further impulses under "Ideas".

"Support cables" for a Clematis plant
Clematis as a climbing plant on a wire rope system, "Light style" from FassadenGrün
Thicket creeper "climbs"  up a wire rope system
Grapevines can also cling to a climbing plant support with its tendrils.
Support systems can be designed as flat, horizontal structures. Here for grapevines
Creeper (Aktinidia arguta) on a wire structure
Wall greening with climbing plants, see photo from before.
Scarlet runners creeps and slings around and up a climbing support system
Climbing plants (Hops) on climbing plant supports
These subsequently installed wire ropes make a wall grid for the already strong Honeysuckle. The new shoots will cling to the system and climb up it.
Espalier fruit tied to the support system with binding material.
These roses were tied to the Climbing support system
Different climbing plants were bound to this support frame
Climbing support grid consisting of cable for espalier fruit (Apricot).Here the branches are not being lead along the grid lines, rather diagonally.
Strictly formed espalier fruit (Pear) on a façade. Here the branches are lead exactly along the wire strands.
Pergola with wire rope for Thicket creeper. The branch arms will be guided along the wire strands.
Fall protection for English Ivy
Free standing support system on a roof terrace