March 16, 2010

This Shade is Sure to Grow on You!

by: Doreen Pollack

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Today, guest blogger Doreen Pollack teaches us about the many green benefits of growing a vine at home.  What I love about Doreen’s strategies is that they not only offer shade to your home, which is so important here in the desert, but they have many other benefits as well.  This makes sense because that’s how nature works!


Doreen Pollack is the Garden Goddess and owner of Down 2 Earth Gardens, providing garden consultations and coaching.  Get gardening tips at monthly workshops, on her blog or newsletter.  Visit to learn more.

Using a tree or even a tall shrub to provide shade to a structure may not always be feasible. Perhaps the placement is an issue –overhead lines, a pathway you don’t want to block, or it would be too close to the structure. Or all you want to do is protect a
window, or patio from the sun.

This is where a vine comes in as the next best alternative.

Some vines grow better in the shade; others the sun. Learn what vines do best in your zone. Select vines based on sun exposure during the warmer time of the year. Some go dormant during the winter and lose their leaves, letting in the warmth of the winter sun.

Another positive attribute about vines is they can be planted closer to a structure as their root system is much smaller. Some vines can climb up or attach themselves to almost anything like a rope attached to the roof eave and secured in the garden bed. Whereas others may need to be encouraged (i.e. woven in and out or tied) to grow on a trellis. Trellises should be placed on the hottest side of the house, and at least 6″ from the wall to protect the wall and provide a buffer of cool air.

Consider whether the vine has flower, thorns and will attract bees. This might also impact the placement. Thorns could be a good deterrent to robbers! If you like to open the window and don’t have a screen, bees may not be welcome!

Plants placed close to a window, and especially vines that cover a window or screen provide another cooling benefit called evapotranspiration. This is the combination of the moisture coming off the plant and the ground creating cooler air near the plant. That is a good thing near a window you might open in the evening to help cool down the house or room.

Think non-traditional when choosing a plant – why not plant a grape vine and then eat the grapes or a cucumber vine and eat the
cucumber? These are both warm weather plants that will grow during the hotter time of the year when you want
to shade the window and provide food for you!

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