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using vines to shield deck from sun

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Joined: 7/09/2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 5
Posted: Jul/09/2007 3:51 PM PST

I have a bungalow in downtown D.C. that runs east-west, hence the rear gets intense afternoon sun. I plan to build a 12x20'deck connecting to the middle floor which is 8' off the ground and using the building for the rear side. I am hoping someone has some advice for me on using vines to shield the deck from the sun and give some privacy. I need a vine that can grow up from the earth on wires I shall build along the sides and hopefully cover the trellis or pergola I could build over the deck. I am considering virginia creeper or boston ivy, because I need a tough plant and one that sheds its leaves in the fall so the winter sun will warm the house. Can anyone suggest anything else readily available?
If anyone has any experience with using vines to shield a house from intense sun and heat, I would very much appreciate hearing from you.
karslinky blog photos
Joined: 8/28/2004
Location: Upstate New York
Posts: 1197
Posted: Jul/12/2007 4:05 AM PST

I don't have specific experience growing a vine for shading a deck or house, but can give you my 2 cents anyway - you'll want something that grows early and fast so that you don't have to wait until the end of summer to get the shade - I am not sure that wires would be the best thing for most vines to grow on - can a trellis be built for vine support? The first thing that came to mind is an early clematis, though if you read perennial posts you will find that they can be a bit tempermental! When growing happily, however, they can grow quickly and provide dense leaves. Ivy may take several years to fill in enough, and don't necessarily lose leaves in winter. A trumpet vine might work and will attract hummingbirds, always a bonus. I have not yet done it, but am planning to grow clematis vines on a trellis we will build around a porch on the east side of the house - we are just now redoing the porch floor, but I don't expect to plant anything until next year so it has time to establish before the winter... Hope this gives you a starting point!
sweetlebee blog photos
Joined: 5/09/2005
Posts: 19587
Posted: Jul/12/2007 9:08 AM PST

My thought was you'll need a vine that grows 20-30 feet since it has to grow 8 feet just to reach the trellis. Akebia grows that fast in one summer, but it flowers in April. It does have nice foliage though.
Joined: 7/09/2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 5
Posted: Jul/20/2007 8:08 AM PST

Thanks. Your remarks were helpful. In particular can you advise me on how to insulate a planting box. I am in zone 7, inner city Washington D.C., meaning it can get down to 0 F in the winter, although this is very unusual. 10-20 is also unusual, but certainly not unknown.
The box has to sit above ground on the deck, so it is exposed on all sides to the air. I had thought of lining it with hard insulation. The thickest one can buy is 2", about R11.
Is there anything but mulch one could put on top?
Joined: 7/09/2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 5
Posted: Jul/20/2007 8:22 AM PST

I would appreciate any suggestions for a good tree to plant in a patio box 4'x4' by 30'' deep. It rests on a sand bed about 10" thick and the earth underneath, (I could dig this out to make a bigger area for the roots). It sits just outside the kitchen window, so I would like something beautiful, that is hardy in zone 7. I want a real tree, not a shrub, that will grow high enough to allow one to walk under it and will spread out enough to provide good shade. This spot gets hot afternoon sun, (it is behind a house a few blocks from George Washington's home at Mt. Vernon, Virginia.)
I have considered a cherry tree, but one died nearby on me last year, so I hope to be sure this time I am getting the best tree for this spot. A maple would have the advantage of growing high and sheltering the roof of the house, but this backyard already has maples and I want something dramatic.
spiceoflife blog photos
Joined: 7/30/2007
Location: Suburb of Boston, Massachusetts
Posts: 698
Posted: Aug/12/2007 7:57 AM PST

I use grapes to shade my house from the sun. Not only does it grow fast to provide quick cover (once it's established), but it's hardy to zone 5 where I am, and you get the bonus of the grapes.
Joined: 7/09/2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 5
Posted: Aug/28/2007 1:36 PM PST

What do you use to support the vines? I plan to use wires rather than wood and wonder if that will work.
How high do they grow? Do you get much help in shading the roof against the sun?
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