Understanding natures divine strategy

Vines developed as a way to exploit limited sunlight in forests where the light is taken by the trees, leaving little for smaller plants. Vines tolerate shade when they're young and scramble to the tops of the trees to get to the sun, spreading out as soon as they reach the canopy. All vines compete with their host trees, and some — like the strangler fig of tropical rain forests — ultimately kill the tree and become trees themselves by developing huge trunks and branches. Some introduced vines such as the infamous kudzu in the Southern U.S. have become a severe problem with no solution in sight. If all this sounds kind of violent or at least rude, it is. Natural doesn't always play gentle.

When properly chosen and planted in a suitable location, the right vine can be just the ticket for special garden needs. Vines need more trimming than other plants, but sometimes that's a small price to pay to get a lot of function.

Here are some general things to consider to make vines work for you:

  • Using vines: Make use of vines to cover fences where you have no space for a hedge. Plant them on walls to help insulate the house and conceal bad architecture. Send them over the hill to control erosion.
  • Choosing a climbing style: Some vines twine around their support; others wrap small tendrils around the stems of other plants; still others stick by means of little holdfasts, which look like teeny lizard feet. Some vines just sprawl. Choose a vine type that grows on the support you plan to offer it. (Holdfasts, by the way, are well named; they can be nearly impossible to get off if you want to paint.)
  • Deciding between evergreen or deciduous vines: Evergreen vines hold their leaves all year; deciduous ones lose them in winter. Choose evergreens for screening purposes.
  • Attracting wildlife: Many vines attract and nurture butterflies, birds, and bees. Vines can also attract rats, which is not so good unless you happen to love rats.
  • Building a support system: Make your support strong, because mature vines can be surprisingly heavy. A building will do as long as you're willing to keep the vine trimmed away from eaves and openings. Install horizontal stainless steel wires on fences, and hand-train the vines onto them. Make trellises out of natural materials such as the whiplike branches pruned from deciduous fruit trees.

You may be tempted to grow big vines on overhead pergolas. What usually happens is that all the leaves and flowers grow on top, where all the light is, and you end up sitting underneath looking at dead stuff and wondering when the rats are going to start jumping on your head. And when the time comes to paint, you'll wish you'd never heard the word vine. If your pergola is ugly, tear it down; don't make things worse by trying to hide it with a vine. Also, go ahead and let a vine climb up to the second story if you like spending your weekends teetering high on a ladder with electric hedge clippers in your face.

Avoid growing vines on power poles. They draw attention to the pole and make the utility companies unhappy, because they have to keep cutting back the vines. Keep them out of trees, too.

✓ Planting different combinations: Try planting two vines that bloom in different seasons for a longer display of color.

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Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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