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Old 04-23-2015, 12:01 AM   #1
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Unique Vine Application - Treehouse Roof


Hi,
I have what I think might be a really fun application for a vine, if I can find the right plant. My son and I have built a tree house:



We've kicked around a lot of ideas for roofs, and one of the ideas that I really like is using a plant/vine to fill in the roofline and provide some relief from the sun. We aren't looking for a waterproof solution, or a year round solution either. I also like the idea of getting some green back into the tree.
A little explanation of the treehouse - it is in an ash tree that was on its way out from the ash borer. The trunk is about 24" in diameter, and the deck of the house is 8'x8'. The deck is about 6' from the ground. The tree passes through the center of the deck, and there are 4 chains that attach from the corners of the deck, run vertically to supports, then all meet at the trunk, about 10' from the deck, and 16' from the ground. The deck is anchored to the trunk at its center, and the 4 corners are suspended by the chains. If material were stretched across the 4 chains at the roof section it would form a pyramid, or hip roof. The tree trunk is currently about 30' tall. The extra section of tree trunk above the point where the chains meet will be removed. Here's another picture that better shows the chains and construction:



As for the roof I'm thinking that I'd like to mount a large planter to the top of the trunk (17' from the ground, immediately above where the chains meet the tree) and plant a vine there. I'd then string some supports between the four chains in the corners of the roof, and as the vine grew from the planter, I would train it to grow down across these supports like ladder wrungs and eventually fill in the roofline.
Our part of Ohio is zone 5b. The sun situation for this area is mixed sun/shade, and it is becoming sunnier as more ash trees are removed from the yard.
Does anyone have any suggestions for a vine that could grow - from a large pot, at the top of a 17' stump, without much attention like watering (other than rain) or fertilizing - to flow out and cover the roof as I have described? Or does anyone have any better ideas for getting a vine up and into the roof of this treehouse? Grown from the ground? I'd like to avoid adding more weight (soil weight) to the tree house structure.
Please let me know any thoughts or advice you might have.
Thanks,
Jeff
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Old 04-23-2015, 07:22 AM   #2
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Nice design---Wisteria might be a good choice---it is agressive and fast growing---I don't know if the blooms might attract unwanted stinging inscets,however.
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Old 04-25-2015, 10:33 AM   #3
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After more searching I am currently leaning towards Virginia Creeper, planted at the base, growing it up along the trunk, through the deck and to the roof line, then training it to climb out along the roof chains and the supports that I will add between chains. Ive never worked with this vine before, but it sounds like it will grow pretty quickly and will not attract as many bees as most of the flowering vines. One downside that I see is that this vine will drop berries at some point in the year. Does anybody have any good or bad experience they can share with this vine?
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Old 04-28-2015, 06:39 AM   #4
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Around here we call virginia creeper a weed----however,it will do what you want.
I rip it out because it strangles the trees--your is already dead--so no risk---
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Old 05-02-2015, 10:34 AM   #5
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Thanks for the input Mike. Ive read in some places that virginia creeper is allergenic and can cause reactions similar to poison ivy among some people. Have you heard this? Or perhaps experienced it when ripping it out in the past?
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Old 05-02-2015, 01:19 PM   #6
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Wow! This is the third time I've tried to post a response. Each time the website crashes and I have to start over.

Soooo, just quickly:

Virginia Creeper is considered invasive in some areas; check with your state's natural resource department before considering it.

There are a lot of inexpensive vines as well as the more expensive queens of the garden such as climbing roses.

Here's a list of some that are reasonable and could work, but there are also the perennials such as clematis, wisteria (heavy though and needs good support), silver lace vine (also considered invasive in some areas but it is beautiful and could be contained if planted in a container).

http://www.burpee.com/flowers/vines-and-climbers/

Morning glories are beautiful (and not to be considered invasive as are their relatives the bindweeds, although the two are often confused). Sweet peas, hyacinth bean (stunning!) and even hops could be considered.


Posting this now before I get bumped off again!
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Old 05-02-2015, 01:34 PM   #7
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Thanks for your persistence in posting!
We have hops in other parts of the yard (I was just training it along a few minutes ago) and we really like it. For this tree house I was hoping to have a perennial plant that wouldn't die back to the ground each year (like hops & clematis too I believe) and have to make the ~15' climb at the beginning of each year before it can start to fill the roof.
Im also trying to avoid flowers and the bees that will come along with them, so morning glories, wisteria and others are low on the list for that reason...
Other vines that have been suggested - an aggressive growing grape (fruit or wine) vine, and "hardy kiwi". I think Im going to give one or both of these a try before I unleash Virginia creeper into the yard..

I will look into the sweet peas & hyacinth bean, thanks for the suggestions!
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Old 05-03-2015, 08:53 AM   #8
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The pea vines he suggested look good and grow very fast---
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