Creating Living Shade with Vines

Creating living shade with vines

This article was originally posted for 505Outside.com, it is being re-published here for your use.

While it is fantastic living in the Southwest where the sun shines over 310 days a year, sometimes landscapes and homeowners alike crave shade. Large trees provide great shade but may take a long time to grow. So to create fast shade for patios and windows, choose vines. Luckily many vines grow well in Albuquerque, including evergreen vines, flowering vines, fruiting vines and many more. Below are four favorites of 505Outside for the Albuquerque area.

1. Wisteria, Wisteria sinensis: The pendulous lavender flowers of this vine are some of the first to bloom in the spring. Bright green leaves follow shortly thereafter, filling up the plant and creating lots of dappled shade below. Once the flowers fade, the leaves fill in to provide dense shade in the summer. Prepare for wisteria vines to get woody over time. Strategic training of the stems is also recommended. Wisteria grows well in sun, shade and part shade. Mature height and spread are 25’ to 30’ x 25’ to 40’.

Wisteria growing over a front door trellis.

2. Lady Banks Rose, Rosa banksiae: Rarely do you find a plant that is fast growing, evergreen and long-lived. Lady Banks Rose is all those things, and it produces a beautiful if brief show of flowers in spring. And it uses surprisingly little water. This plant grows large and, unlike most roses, blooms on old wood.

3. Trumpet Vine, Campsis radicans: Orange and yellow trumpet-like flowers grace this beautiful deciduous vine. Train it to grow onto a shade structure. It is a fast grower but you must provide a strong enough support and enough space for this vigorous rambler.

4. Grape vines, multiple varieties: New Mexico is one of the oldest grape growing regions in North America. For covering a trellis or arbor look for vigorous growers. Grape vines like to have moist feet during the first year of establishment. Grapes will grow wild and crazy if not trained and strategically pruned during the winter months. They also need constant redirecting, so tie the vines to the trellis with twine, checking on it every other week during the growing season. These are deciduous so be prepared for a sculptural woody vista throughout the winter months.

Grape vines growing next to an outdoor patio.

Try growing any of these vines on open lattice ramadas, arbors and pergolas. While wood is the most often used material for these structures because it is simple and easy to build, in the Albuquerque climate steel is an ideal choice. Steel structures are strong, long lasting and maintenance free. No matter what material you choose, creating living shade with vines can be rewarding.

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