Is It Safe to Plant Climbing Vines Around Your House?
Choose your vines wisely. A vine on house exteriors can inflict unintended damage if you aren't careful.
Beautiful climbing vines can make your home look stately and refined. We’ve all seen photographs of vines on a house, from gorgeous brick homes covered in lush greenery to old manors framed with creeping ivy that look like something out of a storybook.
But what are the implications of letting these prolific plants grow on your house? If you’ve been dreaming of seeing vines on your home, you’ll want to know if it’s safe, both structurally and otherwise.
Should You Let Vines Grow on Your House?
Whether or not you should let vines grow on your house depends on a few factors. The most important one is how much upkeep you’re willing to put into them—vines are a lot of work. In most cases, you’ll find that vines on a house mean consistent care and pruning back.
When overgrown, a species of vines on house exteriors can mean imminent destruction. Vines left alone can take over your exterior, rot wood (from too much moisture) and seriously damage your home’s structure. This is the first rule of growing a climbing vine on your home—you must be willing to tend to them regularly, so they don’t overgrow, which means keeping them pruned and dry. If you can commit to their care, most vines are a safe, pretty landscaping feature.
How to Choose the Best Climbing Vines for Your House
Avoid Invasive Plants
Before you choose your future outdoor climbing plant, you should know which ones to avoid. Some plants aren’t ideal for the outside of your house simply because they’re hard to care for and prone to taking over. You should avoid choosing invasive vines. For example, Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) is invasive in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9. If you live in one of these zones, your Chinese Wisteria could continue rooting at each node (the points on the stems where the plant’s buds, twigs and leaves grow from). If it continues to root, you could have serious spreading problems. Choosing American Wisteria is an easy solution to prevent overgrowing issues with the Asian varieties.
Pick Plants You Can Manage
When considering which vine to plant, don’t go with unmanageable plants that will take over, including “monster” vines. These infamously hardy plants include:
- Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)
- Japanese Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda),
- Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis)
- Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
- Porcelain Berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata)
- Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
Also, double check the vine you choose is suitable for your USDA plant hardiness zone.
Consider Your Home’s Exterior
Consider the structure of your home. Is the exterior stucco, brick, stone or wood? You may want to talk to a garden specialist or landscaper to find a specific vine that best suits your home’s exterior. For instance, someone who owns a brick house with weakened or old masonry should beware of vines with tendrils, which could weaken and damage your mortar, per SFGate.
Other Tips for Protecting the Structure of Your House
You’ll want to care for your vines regularly to keep your house safe and sound. Here are some things you can do to keep your property undamaged and your beautiful vines harmless:
- Opt for a structural feature, like a trellis or a frame.
- Train your vines away from your home’s gutters, wires and downspouts.
- Use wires to encourage your vines to grow in a particular direction.
- Keep your vines dry and away from the wooden elements of your home’s exterior to prevent wood rot.
Finally, if you want to avoid the hassle of maintaining vines on your home, you may decide to plant them somewhere less risky, such as around a mailbox, on a shed or on a separate pergola or gazebo. If you need some inspiration, these garden arbor and trellis projects can help you imagine the perfect addition to your yard.