Design Ideas for Climbers and Wall Shrubs

Discover colorful options for making climber plants and wall shrubs a part of your garden design.

The Asian species of wisteria need a strong support for their massive woody vines.

Wisteria

The Asian species of wisteria need a strong support for their massive woody vines.

Climbers and wall shrubs are versatile plants, perfect for decorating small gardens where space is tight or for covering large structures and screens. Prized for their lush foliage, they also offer a variety of decorative fruits and flowers.

Providing Walls of Scent

The beauty of a scented climber is that the blooms are perfectly placed at nose height. The choice is vast, with climbing and rambling roses producing a range of heady scents. Deciduous honeysuckles (Lonicera periclymenum) and jasmines (Jasminum) are also hard to beat for fragrance, while scented evergreens include the star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides). Wisteria’s purple or white lanterns of flowers reign supreme in the spring, blessing gardens with a rich scent. Best grown on a sturdy pergola or frame, this towering beauty needs plenty of support.

Creating Leafy Screens

When grown up a wooden or chain link fence or a trellis, climbers offer a fast-growing alternative to a hedge. These hybrid fence-covering hedges are known as “fedges,” and ideal plants include ivy (Hedera helix) and the deciduous Virgina creeper (Parthenocissus). For a shady wall or fence, try the climbing hydrangea, which produces a leafy screen with flat, white flowers. The stunning pink, white, and green Actinidia kolomikta is a great choice for a sunny site.

Decorating Structures

Soften the hard lines of a pergola, arch, fence, or shed with a veil of braided stems, textured foliage, and flowers and fruits for all seasons. Wire up vertical supports for twiners, and ensure your structure will take the weight of heavy-limbed specimens. Try combining two varieties, but check plant labels for vigor to ensure one half of a climbing pair will not swamp the other. Also consider wall shrubs, such as Pyracantha, which makes screens of spiny stems, evergreen foliage, and masses of fall and winter berries. 

Adding Height to Container Displays

Climbers are not just for beds and borders. In a courtyard or on a patio, create focal points with large pots of annuals. Traditional flowering climbers, such as sweet peas, are ideal for an English-garden design, supported by a tripod of rustic canes. For a contemporary effect, choose an unusual flower shape such as Rhodochiton. Patio clematis are also worth considering, their compact growth festooned with summer flowers.

Climbing Through Trees and Shrubs

Deciduous trees provide the perfect hosts for large scrambling climbers like roses and early-flowering clematis. These vigorous plants will need a little support from bamboo canes at first, but once latched onto the tree branches, they will soon find their way up through the canopy. Choose pairings of trees and climbers carefully to give a long season of interest with flowering seasons in quick succession. For summer and fall color, add a late-flowering species, such as the flame creeper (Tropaeolum speciosum). Adorn shrubs with more compact climbers; try a scrambling annual like the cup and saucer vine (Cobaea scandens), or in a tropical-style garden, choose sizzling orange Eccremocarpus flowers.

Next Up

Planting and Growing Milkweed

Welcome endangered monarchs and other beautiful butterflies to your yard with milkweed. We tell you how, when and where to grow different types of milkweed — including butterfly weed, common milkweed, swamp milkweed and showy milkweed — as well as where to get milkweed seeds.

How to Grow Mushrooms in a Spackle Bucket

Calling all vegetable lovers! Grow mushrooms easily in a plastic tote or 5-gallon bucket, even if you don't have a vegetable garden.

How to Grow Patio Roses in Containers

Plant in containers so you can stop and smell the roses on your patio, deck or balcony.

How to Care for Butterfly Bush

The colorful flowering butterfly bush is easy to care for and a favorite of gardeners and butterflies alike.

How to Grow Hydrangeas in Pots

Learn how to grow these ever-popular flowering shrubs in containers for mobile garden color.

21 Plants to Add Instant Curb Appeal When Selling Your Home

Before you plant that "For Sale" sign in your yard, plant shrubs and flowers to boost your curb appeal.

How to Grow and Care for Snapdragon Flowers

Bring cottage garden charm to your yard with snapdragons, an old-fashioned favorite.

12 Best Indoor Herb Garden Kits

Snip fresh herbs right when you need them with one of these indoor herb garden kits to grow thyme, cilantro, basil, parsley and more.

Small-Space Vegetable Gardens

Make room on your fire escape or pot up some tomato plants—you can grow delicious fruits and veggies even if you don't have much space.

Look to Native Species When Plotting Out Your Garden

Do your research and you'll wind up with a garden to love.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.