Will Vines Damage My Fence?
A fence with vines is a strong visual choice for a front or backyard, adding a touch of natural beauty to a potentially mundane element of your property. While some consider vines on a fence a great way to cover up uglier design choices, there’s still some debate over whether fences with vines are doomed to perish sooner than those that are left alone.
The fact of the matter is that there are various different types of vines that grow on fences, each of which having its own impact on the structural integrity and lasting power of the fence itself. Similarly, fences can be made from various materials, with certain fences withstanding vines better than others.
We’ve put together this article so you can better understand vines that grow on fences, the risks they face in relation to vine species and materials, along with some learning some growing and maintenance tips.
Fence-Friendly/Unfriendly Vine Types
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of species types, you should understand that there are different groups of vines that will impact fences in different ways. Without getting too specific, there are a few things that you should look out for when making your choices.
Fence-Friendly - Annuals:
The beauty of annuals is that they grow quickly and only last for a year at a time, so choosing to grow some annual vines on a fence isn’t as major of a commitment. If after a year it appears that the vines are doing some damage or you’d rather have a different visual style, you can simply choose to not grow them again. Annuals are especially well-suited to fence materials that are more sensitive to damage.
Fence-Friendly - Herbaceous:
When choosing your vines, in many cases it will make more sense to go for something green, herbaceous, and not particularly thick or woody. With more herbaceous, vegetative vines, less pressure will be put on the structure of your fence, along with less moisture being contained in close proximity than with woody vines. This means you’re less likely to see the cracks, bacteria build-ups, and rust that more substantial vines can inspire.
Fence-Unfriendly - Woody:
Thick, woody vines aren’t the best choice when it comes to growing vines on a fence. While they can be a great addition to a garden, growing beautiful, sweet-smelling flowers that attract wildlife and add some welcome color, they can do some serious damage to fences. Woody vines are stronger and thicker than herbaceous breeds which can cause structural damage, along with holding masses of moisture near fences which can lead to rot, rust, and degradation.
Fence-Unfriendly - Invasive:
Invasive vines are another group that you should try to avoid when introducing vines to your fencing, and be careful because they often appear to be fairly unthreatening in early life. Invasive vines grow very quickly, taking up as much space as they can, even annexing the eco-systems of other nearby plants. If not handled properly, invasive vines can overwhelm a fence, bringing with them the same problems associated with woody species.
What Will Vines Do to Different Fence Materials
Before introducing vines to your fence, you should consider what sort of fence you have on your property. While a wooden fence covered with vines might give you the aesthetic profile you’re looking for, you might be putting the structure in danger if you don’t choose your plants wisely. Understanding what each fencing material is capable of handling is a good place to start before heading to the plant nursery.
When it comes to wooden fences, overly substantial vines can cause real damage fairly quickly. In fact, most species of vines will eventually cause some damage, with the cracking, rotting, and twisting of fence panels being a common outcome. Generally, when choosing climbing vines for wooden fences you’ll want to go for something more herbaceous and ideally an annual species. This will put less pressure on your fence in terms of moisture, mass, and time.
It’s worth noting that a trellis or arbor might be a better choice if you’re trying to bring vine life into your garden, as a damaged wooden fence is a real practical and financial inconvenience.
Vinyl fences are by nature, more resilient than the wooden variety. Vinyl is a more durable, weather-resistant material than wood, so many of the structural concerns that apply to wooden fences don’t apply. Feel free to choose perennials with vinyl fences, as extended exposure to herbaceous vines is unlikely to cause any damage or degradation.
It’s still worth being cautious with woody vines, as the moisture can lead to algae build-ups, along with bushy foliage inviting in more bugs and pests.
When it comes to metal fences, basically all species of vine are fair game, especially if made from aluminum. Metal fences are sturdy and durable enough to withstand the pressures exerted by woody vines, while metals like aluminum are also resistant to rust meaning that moisture issues aren’t going to be a problem. The lattice design of some metal fences, including chain-link fences, also lends itself well to growing vines, as it allows more space for them to go wild.
Chain-link fences aren’t generally considered the most aesthetic choice, so covering them in plant life is a great way to add some character and even increase your privacy.
Common Plants that Grow on Fences
When it comes to a vine fence, one can be laden with foliage from a variety of different species. As stated before, some of these species are more fence-friendly, while others are likely to cause more damage.
Fence-Friendly Species (Annuals & Perennials):
These species of vine are generally herbaceous and less likely to exert pressure on fences (especially wooden fences), although the list does include a mixture of annuals and perennials. With any of these vines, you should be able to add some natural color and life to your yard without causing too much damage.
Fence-Unfriendly Vines (Woody & Invasive):
You need to know which specific species you should try to avoid when bringing some vegetation to your yard or home’s borders. This list will consist of woody and invasive vines, but of course, it’s worth remembering that while they do pose a threat to wooden fences, woody ivy on a fence made from metal or vinyl is less likely to cause any issues.
Many of these species are closely related to perfectly safe vines for fences, so make sure to analyze the particulars before making a choice.
How to Grow Ivy on a Fence Safely
If you’re planning to introduce ivy or any other vine to your garden fence, make sure to go about it in the smartest way that you can. We recommend taking a trip to your local garden center or plant nursery and conversing with the staff about what they recommend for your fence and backyard.
It’s unlikely that you’re going to come across too many invasive species in these environments, as they’re even banned from being sold in certain states, but if you’re unsure then don’t be afraid to ask.
Once your vines are planted and starting to establish, try and lead them up the posts of the fence, and feel free to keep them in place with ties and clips. Keeping the vines in order and taking proper care of them is an easy way to protect your fence from potential damage.
How to Kill Ivy on a Fence Properly
If you’re unhappy with vines or invasive vines have made their way onto your fence, you might want to kill them, but you need to do it safely and effectively. If you follow the steps below, you should be able to deal with the problem fairly easily.
- Locate the base roots.
- Cut and pull the ivy roots out in patterns and compost them.
- Spray some weed killer on the remaining stems.
- Pull the vines in the fence out carefully and gently to avoid damaging it.
- Leave leftover vines to dry out.
- Continue applying weed killer.
- Scrape any remaining roots with a sander.
Using this technique you should be able to get the vines on your fence gone for good.
Vines on fences can add a really valuable touch of visual flair, but you just need to be mindful about what you choose and the fence that you’re working with if you want to avoid damage. If you’re looking for other visual additions to your fence, check out our range of post caps, which can increase the class and style of your home’s borders cheaply and effectively.
Check out our blog for more interesting articles on fence maintenance and outdoor lifestyle!