Climbing woody vines provide a great way to take advantage of vertical space in an urban garden. They can be trained to add interest to all kinds of structures, including pillars or columns, fences, walls, trellises and arbors. Groundcover, on the other hand, spreads horizontally, holding soil in place and preventing weeds from establishing. These are often especially useful in difficult-to-plant locations.
Click on or scroll over the images in the expandable galleries below for identifying captions. We have also included links where you can learn more about the recommended species from non-profit horticultural resources in the region.
Although none of the vine species we have here can be considered truly small, these selections are the most manageable in a residential setting with minimal upkeep and light-duty structural support.
From left to right: (1) Virgin’s bower; (2 & 3) Limber honeysuckle; (4) Trumpet honeysuckle; (5) Yellow passionflower; (6) Everblooming honeysuckle
Vines of this size need sturdy support from a tall fence, wall, or well-constructed arbor.
Left to right: (1) American wisteria; (2) Kentucky wisteria ‘Blue Moon’; (3 & 4) Purple passionflower; (5) Japanese climbing hydrangea; (6) Japanese climbing hydrangea ‘Moonlight‘
These vines can grow very large requiring a sturdy structure. They should be prevented from climbing into live trees and over any other structures that may be damaged by additional weight. That said, their dense growth can make a striking visual impact.
Left to right: (1 & 2) Virginia creeper; (3) American bittersweet; (4 & 5) Dutchman’s pipe; (6) Climbing hydrangea
Good groundcover selections for cultivated landscapes spread through their root systems at a moderate rate and can be managed effectively to stay within the desired area. Once established, they help keep soils cool and moist, prevent erosion, and suppress weed growth. There are relatively few woody groundcovers that fit our criteria for landscape alternatives, so we have included some herbaceous plants as options too.
Top row, left to right: (1) Virginia creeper; (2) Bearberry; (3) Canadian wild ginger; (4) Limber honeysuckle; (5) Pennsylvania sedge; (6) Christmas fern
Bottom row, left to right: (1) Barren strawberry; (2) Allegheny spurge; (3) Woodland stonecrop; (4) European wild ginger; (5) Bearberry cotoneaster; (6) Cutleaf stephanandra ‘Crispa’
Header Photo: Virgin’s bower (Clematis virginiana) by Kerry Woods under Creative Commons license via flickr.com