Keep Vine Roots Away from Walls!

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Plant the roots of climbing plants well away from drying walls. Source: Claire Tourigny, from the book Les 1500 trucs du jardinier paresseux

Whether you let them cling directly to the wall or have them climbing up a trellis attached to the wall, growing climbing plants on your house creates a charming effect.

The problem is that, if there is one place where the roots of climbing plants are unhappy, it’s in contact with the building’s foundation. This is usually the driest spot in your entire yard, as they’ll find themselves in the rain shadow caused by the eaves above, and this means very little precipitation reaches the ground. Also, the foundation gives off heat, drying out the soil at the base of the wall even further. In addition, the average foundation is made of concrete, a very alkaline product that leaches into the adjacent soil, yet most climbers prefer their soil slightly acid or at worst, no more than neutral.

Fortunately, it’s easy to grow climbers in such a way that they can work their way up your wall without their roots being in the foundation’s dead zone. Just plant them at a distance from the wall, in the area beyond the eaves that receives normal rainfall, and then direct the stems towards the wall they are to climb.

To do this, plant the plant at an angle, almost horizontally, with the root ball pointing away from the wall. That way the roots will be located in rain-rich, less alkaline soil while the branches will automatically be oriented towards their future support. Easy peasy!

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