Climbing plants and hedges

Climbing plants and hedges are not often used in building despite their interesting properties. They can reduce the effects of wind, increase warmth and sound insulation, and protect wall materials. There are two main types of climbing plant: those that climb without support, and those that need support (Table 10.7).

Self-climbers need no help to climb and can easily cover a wall. They climb by means of small shoots with small roots or tentacles. The smallest unevenness on the wall gives them a grip. Over a period of time an even, green screen will form, requiring a minimum of care. These types of plants are best suited for high, inaccessible fac ades.

The most important climber in the northern European climate is ivy. It grows slowly, but can spread out to a height of 30 m, and is evergreen.

Trellis climbers are dependent upon some form of support to be able to climb a wall. There are three types:

• Twining plants need to twist around something to climb. They do not grow well on horizontal planes. Wisteria, honeysuckle and hops are common examples.

• Self-supporting plants have a special growth that attaches to irregularities on a wall or to a trellis of steel or timber. These plants grow strongly and need regular cutting and care. The Virginia creeper is the most common. The wall does not have to be particularly uneven for the plant to be able to fasten onto it; in some cases these plants can be classified as self-climbers.

• Some plants that need support do not fasten either to walls or other objects. They grow upwards quickly and chaotically, and can form thick layers. Blackberry bushes are an example.

If there is no earth along the external walls of a building, most climbing plants can be hung from a balcony. Virginia creeper and blackberry are good hanging plants.

Hedge plants can be planted against a wall and grow independently with a strong trunk, but do not fasten to the wall. They have to be trimmed regularly. Quite a few grow in the northern European climate, such as rose hip.

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