Best Plants To Cover Walls – Tips For Using Plants On Walls

By: Teo Spengler

“Something there is that does not love a wall,” wrote poet Robert Frost. If you also have a wall you do not love, remember that you can use trailing plants to cover a wall. Read on for more information about using plants on walls.

Using Plants on Walls

If you have an unsightly wall on one border of your garden, you can enlist garden plants to help. Finding trailing plants to cover a wall isn’t difficult, and many vines, deciduous and evergreen, will do the job.

Climbers do more than hide an ugly wall. They can add green foliage and even blossoms to that side of the garden. You can find plants suitable to hide a wall that grow best in sun, as well as climbing plants that grow best in shade. Be sure to pick something that will work in your space.

Trailing Plants to Cover a Wall

Vines are among the best plants to cover walls, since they climb naturally. Some vines, like ivy, are true climbers that use aerial roots to hold on to surfaces. Others, like honeysuckle, twine their stems around hand holds. You’ll have to put in a support to allow these to climb.

Attach wires or a trellis to the wall to provide support for the wall covering plants. Be sure the structure is solid enough to hold up the mature vine. The plants grow heavier as they establish.

Plant your climbing vine in spring, if you bought it bare root. If your plant comes in a container, plant it any time when the ground is not frozen. Dig a hole for the vine about 18 inches (45.5 cm.) away from the base of the wall, insert the plant, and refill it with good soil.

Best Plants to Cover Walls

You’ll find many plants suitable to hide a wall, but the best plants to cover walls depend on your personal preferences. You might try flowering vines to add decorative effect, like the following:

  • Climbing roses
  • Trumpet vine
  • Wisteria
  • Honeysuckle
  • Garden clematis

Alternatively, you could plant fruiting vines like:

  • Grapes
  • Pumpkin
  • Watermelon

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Read more about Landscape Ideas

11 Good Shade Plants to Grow Along a North-Facing Wall

For gardeners in the Northern Hemisphere, few spots are more challenging than the areas along north-facing walls. While the spaces along east-facing and west-facing walls receive at least a few hours of morning or afternoon sun, the areas along north-facing walls receive almost no direct sunlight. This means you must choose plants that either prefer shade or at least tolerating it. Further, these spaces are often fairly dry, which limits your choices even further.

Fortunately, there are suitable plants in every category—colorful bedding annuals, flowering perennials, climbers, ground-covers, and shrubs—that will grow quite nicely in the challenging conditions created along north-facing walls. Many of these plants will also tolerate some sun, meaning that you can also plant them along east-facing and west-facing walls.

Here are 11 good choices for ornamental plants to use in the challenging shady locations along north-facing walls.

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Climbing plants for sunny walls

Flowers like the ‘Black-eyed Susan’ look fantastic on trellis’.
Image: Shutterstock/MarjanCermelj

South and west-facing walls absorb the heat of the sun throughout much of the day and retain it overnight, making these ideal spots for less hardy plants like Ceanothus x delileanus 'Gloire de Versailles' (Californian Lilac), and the stunning violet passion flower, Passiflora 'Violacea Victoria'.

Winter-flowering climbing plants, and wall shrubs like silk-tassel bush (Garrya) and Wintersweet (Chimonanthus), will also benefit from warmth early in the year and will flower more freely against a south or west-facing wall.

Alternatively, why not try growing fruit trees against a sunny wall for a spectacular show of spring blossom and fresh home-grown produce straight from your garden? To save space, fruit trees can be trained as cordons, fans or espaliers.

In sunny spots where the soil is prone to drying in the heat, it’s vital to ensure you dig in plenty of organic matter like well-rotted manure or compost before planting. Mulching with organic matter or pebbles also helps to conserve moisture during the summer.

Gripping Ground-Covers

Reducing the need for weeding, ground-cover plants spread over bare soil and provide foliage and flowers at ground level. The ground-cover creeping phlox (Phlox stolonifera) grows in 3-inch-tall mats and from July through September bears purple or violet flowers that rise 8 inches above the foliage. Growing best in moist soil in full sun or partial shade, creeping phlox is hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9. White stonecrop "Murale" (Sedum album subsp. teretifolium "Murale") is a ground cover plant for dry, sandy soil in full sun. Bearing clusters of small, white flowers above bronze-red leaves, it grows 4 inches tall and spreads indefinitely. "Murale" is perennial in USDA zones 3 through 9. Both plants tolerate pollution from exhaust fumes.

Planting ideas for garden walls

Colour up your walls with these creative ways to grow plants up them.

When space is limited, for example in small, urban gardens or balconies, vertical gardening is an essential space-saver.

Climbing plants are a good starting point, but there are trailing plants, herbs, fan-trained fruits and quick-fix annuals to consider, too.

Walls are blank canvases and have the potential to retain heat well, so there are plenty of plants that will relish the conditions. Do remember that pots next to walls may be in a rain shadow – tackle this with careful plant selection, diligent watering or an automatic drip-irrigation system.

Discover some of our favourite planting ideas for garden walls below.

Classic climbers

Classic climbers like clematis and roses will thrive on walls while providing up to six months of flower.

Shade lovers

For shady walls, epiphytic plants such as bromeliads and ferns can be mounted during summer onto walls, posts or rustic branches. The combination of plants pictured consists of hart’s tongue ferns, mind your own business and brunnera.

Trailing edibles

Trailing edibles are ideal for walls – go for plants like squashes, and tomatoes, which can be grown down in the vertical space. As well as multi-storey planters and pocket planters, you could also try hanging baskets.

Space-saving fruit

Espalier and fan-trained fruit trees thrive in the shelter of warm walls. Try this with apples, pears, cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines, figs and apricots. Discover three ways to train a fruit tree.

Fast flowers

Summer climbers such as eccremocarpus, sweet peas, Thunbergia alata or cobaea provide accents to a wall without encroaching into the space. Start them off early in the year and gradually harden off before planting in late spring.

Multi-storey planting

Mangers or baskets can be hung or attached one above the other to maximise planting space. Trailing plants like ivy, Lysimachia congestiflora and prostrate rosemary are ideal.

Space-savvy salads

Cut and come again salads don’t require a lot of root space to grow. Try growing them in a space-saving salad planter made from pieces of guttering, which can be attached to walls and fences. You can also find purpose made wall planters for this purpose – find out how to use one to create a living wall.

If you cant a really tall fence, then go for Cedar tress to fence your home.

1. Bamboo Plants: The bamboo plant is one of the most versatile plants that you come across. It can grow as an indoor plant in low light and without soil. But the bigger variety of bamboo shoots can also be used to build a strong fence. Bamboos are the most commonly used plants for fences in rural parts of Asia.

2. Japanese Holly: Apart from religious purposes, stakes of Holly have other uses too. Holly makes a great fence for your garden because of its thorny stems. The fact that it is pricky to touch adds an element of security to the fence. The Japanese variety of Holly is very tall and makes a great fence.

3. English Ivy: Ivy is a poisonous vine that was traditionally grown on the stone walls of castles as a protection against petty thieves. The English Ivy is a domestic variety of this vine that is majorly non-poisonous. It grows very fast and covers the fence with its foliage.

4. American Holly: This type of Holly is not as tall as its Japanese cousin, but it certainly makes up for height in width. The American holly is the most commonly grown shrub for privacy. Due to its dense foliage that totally block vision, it is nicknamed the 'privacy hedge'. However you need to trim your privacy hedge regularly or else it runs wild.

5. Ferns: Most ferns that have more foliage make good fence plants. Tall ferns should be avoided while fencing. The Boston Fern is a good sturdy variety of fern to plant on fences. Allow it to grow on top of walls to make them look green.

6. Clementis: Green is a great colour for a fence. But with a touch of few more colours, your fence can look really vibrant. Flowering vines too can make great fences. They may not offer the privacy offered by hedges, but the colour they add to your fence more than makes up for the lack of density. Clementis is a great flowering and climbing plant that can be allowed to grow on a wooden fence. We particularly liked this deep purple variety.

7. Cedars Trees: These tall coniferous trees can make great garden fences by the sheer might of their height. However, it takes years to grow an adult Cedar. You will often find them fencing old villas or mansions.

These are some different varieties of plants for fences. How have you fenced your home?

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