Climbing vines are popular for covering walls and pergolas. If you plan to use a climber for this purpose, a few points should be kept in mind:
First, such plants rely on a variety of climbing methods. For the gardener, the main question is, do they need support or not. Ivy i.e. holds itself by developing clinging roots. It is a common myth that they destroy walls directly; unless the plastering is already loose the danger seems to lay more in uncontrolled growth, which may be difficult to clean up after a few years. (Shading provided by a mass of leaves may also prevent walls from drying out, which is certainly not desirable in houses which already has a moisture problem.)
Grapevines use curling tendrils, therefore strong wire may make a convenient support. Clematis tends to develop stems strong enough to support itself after a few years, so choosing some main branches for attachment to the wall or pergola should be sufficient.
Most vines try to reach sunlight with a minimum of effort, which can result in a mass of leaves on top and visible stems further below. Regular pruning helps! It is as well the best recipe to get flowers on flowering vines and helps to avoid the “Wilt” in clematis (a serious problem where within a short time a formerly healthy looking plant suddenly collapses – its caused by a fungus; planting deep and not allowing the branches to move and break in the wind are the best prevention).
Do not underestimate the weight. We have seen some wisteria moving a massive pergola by following the direction of the sunlight during the day!
If you feel you don´t have enough space in your garden for growing climbing vines, remember that clematis is native to forests and used to climb in trees. Climbing roses in old trees can make a wonderful display, too.
In the photograph: A pergola overgrown by clematis and hydrangea