The best way to spruce up any garden, while adding color at the same time, is to grow some vine plants to hide unsightly views or provide some privacy. Vines, or climbing plants, are some of the easiest plants to grow so once you get them started, they go on auto-pilot.

Actually, the grow so well that without proper maintenance, these fast growing plants can become an issue, so if you are the type of gardener that likes to plant things each year and leave them alone, vines for use as climbers or ground cover are probably not for you.

Climbing vines not only look great to you, but they will also attract a lot of birds and butterflies to suck the nectar or seeds from the blooms. You may even find a bird nest of two within your thick brush of vines on a trellis or arbor.

Vines come in two different varieties. There are annuals and perennials. Annuals bloom throughout the year, while perennials generally only bloom once during the growing season.

While perennials only bloom once a year, they tend to grow larger with each new season. These types of vines are most often seen on an arbor or pergola. However, if you want immediate blooms, choose annuals because perennials generally take a few seasons to get going.

Just about any type of climber loves full sun but I have found that they can survive and thrive is areas that only have a few hours of full sunlight a day. For the best of both worlds, look for a spot in your yard that contains a full eight hours of sun, and tends to remain wet whenever it rains such as a slight grade in your yard where the rainwater drains.

When deciding on the type of homemade trellis or support system you are going to build to support your new climbers, be sure to do your research on the various types of vines because some are much heavier than others and require more support. Typically a well-constructed or pre-made arbor type structure should be placed a foot into the ground and secured with concrete below the surface.

Obviously where you live in the United States will determine the type of vines that will thrive, however, most are hardy enough to bloom out in even the harshest of northern latitudes. Just be sure to check the zone rating on the plant which will advise the best time to plant for your area.

Climbing Rose

Best Plants for a Trellis, Arbor or a Climbing Wall
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One of the most beautiful options is a rose bush but they are not natural climbers. As the rose bush starts to spread out, it is very important to properly training climbing roses to grow upward. This is easily done by tying the canes to a structure.

Again, this is one of the heavier climbers, so if you are training them to cover an arbor, make sure you have the support within the structure and within the footings to support the added weight.

Morning Glory

Morning Glory
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This climber is a classic green vine with beautiful blooms that open in the morning and close late in the afternoon. 

The morning glory vine comes in many different colors and are easily guided up a trellis or other vertical structure.

However, as with some other vines, morning glory is very adaptable and can actually take over your garden if you do not keep it in check by pruning it occassionally.


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If you love the smell of springtime, you are probably getting a whiff of whisteria somewhere. The blooms of the whisteria vine smell great.

This green vine has blooms in blue, pink or white and can grow up to 10 feet in one growing season so be careful where you plant it. It can take over a garden, a recurring theme with all vines as you may have noticed.

When growing wisteria, it is important to train it to grow where you want them and keep them pruned back when and where necessary.

This vine comes in varieties that are able to grow in the colder regions of the northern parts of the United States.

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A vinca vine is an annual and is technically a ground cover. However, from my experience it will grow anywhere and that includes straight up a trellis if you desire. It has beautiful purple or pink blooms and comes in green or variegated varieties.

However, like whisteria it is capable of being very invasive in your garden so be careful where and how you plant it. It is a great climber or a ground cover, but once it gets going across the ground it will spread fast. In fact the only way I have found to kill it is to dig up each of the root balls along the vine. It is so hardy that I have pulled it out of the ground and simply tossed in the back of my yard without replanting or watering and it grew out the next season.


Best Plants for a Trellis, Arbor or a Climbing Wall
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This vine prefers full sun with the roots located in a shady damp area. They can grow anywhere from 5 feet to 30 feet tall.[2]

Growing clementis is a great choice for pillars, archways or arbors because they come in a lot of colors and shapes to meet your décor of choice. They generally only bloom once per season and the time depends on the area of the country you live.

How to Select Climbing Vines for a Trellis

Trumpet Vine

Trumpet Vine
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If you like hummingbirds in your garden, then you need a trumpet vine. This is a perennial that blooms clusters of large red or yellow trumpet shaped blooms, hence the name.

If you are planning on climbing a trumpet flower along a vertical support, be sure that it is sturdy enough to hold its weight. These vines can grow out as much as 25 feet long.[1]

Final Thoughts

I will never use vinca again as a ground cover. It requires too much maintenance to keep it in check and there are better low maintenance options.

However, it is one of the better vines to use as a climber and I recommend it for a trellis or an arbor within your garden. Simply buy a couple of the plants and plant them at the base of your structure and begin the climb with ties to the vertical rungs. The plant will do the rest.

I have toyed with several of the other varieties included here and they are very hardy and provide a wild, natural element to any area of your garden or outdoor living space.

In my opinion, the best option for an arch or arbor as an entry way into any garden is a trumpet vine, with wisteria being my second choice.

Even if you have no experience gardening, vines are a great way to start because they will grow just about anyway. It is really hard to kill them. Just start off with one or two plants and train them to grow where you want and you will not have any issues.