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Green Roofs with Climbers?

Generally, climbing plants are usually not used on roof greening, but here we'll show you how it can be done. "Garlands" (created from single, freely-tensioned ropes, and other plants can be used to create transparent "green roofs," even filigree, green canopies! Of course this is a question of the sub-construction... while individual tension cables are sufficient for garlands, many cables (and when possible together with a stable clamping frame) are best used for green roofs (in this case, the structure is more of a pergola), since the weight of climbing plants increases with age. From the following examples, learn what to be mindful of when greening 'roofs' and which plants are most fitting. Refer also to our section on pergolas.

"Stibadium" im Schlosspark Sanssouci / Potsdam / Brandenburg, Gemälde von Carl Graeb 1852
Carl Graeb 1852, © Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten

Suitable Climbing Plants

Grapevines are particularly suitable for green garlands, roofings, pergolas, balconies/galleries etc.. This type of roof greening needs to be pruned regularly and should always remain airy/well ventilated (due to the risk of mildew). For denser, opaque green roofs, go with Dutchman's pipeakebia, or wild (grapeless) grapevines... expect a few years for development. Fast-growing annuals are perfect for garlands; they are lightweight, their foliage manageable, and with their annual dying off, there are hardly any structural problems. With vigorously twining plants like wisteria, bittersweet, silver lace (fleece) vine, and kiwi, it is essential to ensure that wire ropes are not permanently entwined. Details for a parallel trellising of the stems/shoots can be found in our 'wisteria' section.

Greening of a courtyard with wild grapevines
Greening of a courtyard with wild grapevines

Single and Parallel Strands (Garlands)

Already in the Baroque era of garden art, people had been experimenting with hanging vine garlands, or "festoons." Later, after electrification, electric cables in rural areas were often routed through a courtyard and the associated strong tension rope was also used as a holding rope for a vineyard garland. For such practical things, farmers have always been enthusiastic! Whether cable and anchoring are suitable for such additional loads must be clarified on a case-by-case basis. Ropes were often also only tensioned for climbing plants, however. FassadenGrün designed the system 0040 for this type of project (through that link you can also find information about unusual structural features, etc..). By juxtaposing several cables, you can form a roof of greenery between two walls. The suspended vegetation can be combined with climbing fields on a wall (via wire rope spans).

Vine on the wire of an electrical line
Vine on spanned wire
Green garlands with an annual bell vine
Green garlands with an annual bell vine over pedestrian area in Weimar / Thuringia
Vine garlands, similar to our cable system 0040
Grapevine garlands on spanned wires
Two vine garlands spanned, one above the other, similar to our system 0040
Double garlands with grapevines
Tight span of overhead wires in a courtyard gateway
Overhead span of wires in a courtyard gateway
Climbing cables for an overhead greening, detail to the photo above. Eye bolts affixed with composite mortar, WH 10150.
Green roofing with tension ropes
Two yokes (one above the garage and one in front of it in the form of a free-standing pergola) carry 10 parallel, loosely hanging ropes for vine garlands. Winter photo.
Green roof constructions for grapevines
The same green roof as above with summer's abundance of grapes
Green roof with grapes

Street Greening

One can find strands of green hanging in the alleys of southern Europe. (In Germany, for example, in Freiburg/Breisgau.) Unlike a courtyard greening, with this type of greening permits may be necessary because public road space is required and then 'claimed.' The liability for possible damage (for example: torn out tension ropes) should be clarified with the authorities; then nothing stands in the way of a road greening. Naturally, the greenings will usually be limited to narrow streets, alleys, and pedestrian zones.

Courtyard planting with vines
Courtyard greening with vines in Meißen / Saxony
Greening of an alley with bittersweet
Greening of an alley with bittersweet in Quedlinburg / Saxony-Anhalt
Overhead greening in an alleyway, grapevines
Overhead greening in Pegau / Saxony
Street planting with Dutchman's Pipe
Street greening, alley in Halle / Saale / Saxony-Anhalt

Fan-shaped and Intersecting Ropes

A variation-modification of System 7060such that there are intersecting rope sections, forms a load-bearing structure for the green roof. Plan the cables as high as possible to compensate for a certain sagging of the ropes from the weight of the plants. With the highest possible placement, the leaves and shoots will be able to grow and unfold (often hanging) without disturbing the passageway. Points of distribution for the ropes are often placed on separate wooden supports as with wire frameworks; the posts are to be supported as in the case of wire frames or anchored in the ground according to cable system 0050; when needed, also doubled with offset ropes (support triangle). If necessary, it can be anchored in a nearby wall with short tensioning ropes or stainless steel threaded rods (see photo).


Installation in the upper part of the wall is only permitted if the upper bricks are held by a peripheral tie (ring) beam or are reacting on a heavy concrete roof slab; otherwise, they must be more deeply anchored. A separate permit may have to be obtained at property boundaries if customary fence heights are exceeded. If many ropes run from one point, rings with screw joints/links must be added. Use cable with a maximum thickness of 3 mm so that they can absorb peak loads rather than the support post.

Various plants
Privacy screen with wire rope
Post as a distribution point
Post as a distribution point for a green roof
Roof greening with vines
Roof greening with vines
Wild grapes
Wild grapes as a festoon
Open arbour construction with wild vines. With a centre support, star-shaped rope garlands according to system 0040 (4 mm) and an outer circular frame made of square timber, such green 'gazebos' can be created.
Open arbour construction with wild grapes, castle park Sanssouci / Potsdam / Brandenburg
Three vine garlands from one plant
Three vine garlands from one plant
Fan-shaped trellis net made of wire rope for akebia
Roof of leaves with an akebia tied to steel ropes
Roof of leaves with an akebia tied to steel ropes