Woody vines serve important purposes in our landscapes. Because of space constraints, they are used to soften walls, absorb sound, add color and interest. They also add a vertical element and specific form to a landscape, creating more interest. Vines can be grown on supports and literally form walls or ceilings in a "outdoor room".
Vines attach themselves by various means. Some vines, such as the Dropmore Scarlett Honeysuckle, entwine their branches around and through structures. Other vines, like the Boston Ivy, have appendages that look like suction cups and literally adhere to the walls. Grapevines have tendrils that wrap around structures and other plants for support. Some vines like the clematis would sprawl on the ground if not tied to a trellis or fence.
Selecting and Planting Woody Vines
Vines can be purchased in the same way as deciduous shrubs. Typically, they are available as container-grown plants and can be planted at any time of year.
Choose a vine that serves the purpose needed in your landscape. Non-flowering vines can provide a nice background for colorful shrubs or perennials. Flowering vines can be bold focal points when in bloom. Vines growing on structures can help conserve energy by providing a slight insulating barrier. However, many vigorous growing vines can take over a structure or garden if not allowed enough space. Choose a vine that is appropriate for the space available.
For more information on evaluating the existing site, see Site Survey
For more on selecting trees based on site and plant characteristics:
Elements of Design
Pruning Woody Vines
Most woody vines require little or no pruning. Occasionally, a vine may need pruning to keep it from encroaching on neighboring plants and structures where they are not wanted. Many woody vines benefit from annual pruning of older canes to encourage new growth leaf and flower-bearing growth.
Pruning usually causes vigorous new growth. If not maintained, some woody vines will develop thick trunk-like stems that will not produce foliage, flowers or fruit. Some vines, such as grapes, require extensive pruning to ensure good fruit production. Some woody vines will die back part way or all the way to the crown during winter. The dead vines can be pruned away in spring to allow for new, healthy growth the following summer.
Maintaining Woody Vines
For the most part, woody vines can be treated similarly to deciduous shrubs. They are planted in the same manner, and will benefit from mulch over the roots. They require supplemental watering when first planted as well as during droughts, as well as fertilizer based on soil conditions.