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Mar 21

Grow Green to Save Green

Training plants is not only an attractive way to decorate, but it may also save money by adding shade to windows and patios. Some plants are easier to grow on trellises and other supports, while others may climb on walls and other surfaces with no additional support. Healthy plants provide shade in the hot summer months, which can cut energy costs by reducing the need for air conditioning.

Best trailing plants

Some trailing plants like wisteria provide foliage and good shade cover, as well as beautiful, fragrant flowers. Wisteria grows on vines and although it can be a bit difficult to train in the beginning, it is very low maintenance once you get it going. Some climbing plants, such as Virginia creeper and Boston ivy, don’t even need a trellis to grow on walls. For more experienced gardeners, climbing roses are a fragrant and attractive way to shade patios, windows and sliding glass doors. For culinary use, tomatoes make excellent trellis plants.

Preparation

Although some climbing plants use walls for support, others require a supporting structure, such as a trellis. Assembled trellises can be bought at gardening centers. With the right power tools and materials from the local home store, building a trellis is also a fairly simple task. Since some trained plants like wisteria can be quite heavy, it is important that the trellis is made of a durable material that will withstand weight, like pressure-treated wood or metal.

Training the plants

Once the plants have been selected and the supporting system is in place, it’s time to train the plants. One of the most crucial factors in training plants is regular pruning. Most vines grow very quickly and need to be pruned often in order to train the stems in the right direction. When plants are still young, it may be helpful to tie them loosely to the trellis with strips of fabric. As with all backyard plants, regular watering and fertilization promotes healthy growth and will increase the level of shade that trained plants can offer.

Training plants for added shade is an effective way to decrease energy usage and go green in the backyard. Growing shade trees and adding patio fans are a few other ways to reduce energy costs and make the backyard a more comfortable place to be in the hot summer months.

Danielle, who blogs on behalf of Sears and other prestigious brands, started growing her own food at home last year. Her favorite crops have been tomatoes and carrots. Read her work at Eat Breathe Blog.

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