How to Temporarily Remove Vines From a Fence to Replace With a New Fence

You have an old fence that needs replacing, but it’s covered in beautiful vines that you’ve grown for years. You don’t want to lose the vines, but how to save them so they’ll grow on the new fence? Here are some steps to help you through the process.


Things You’ll Need:

  • Plastic tarp
  • Spray bottle
  • Liquid seaweed
  • Garden velcro tape or old pantyhose
  • Scissors
  • Burlap
  • Landscaping staples, if digging up root balls
  • Water source
  • Shovel, if plants need to be relocated during installation

Step 1:
Decide whether you will dig up the vines or leave them in place. This decision will depend on how difficult the installation of the new fence will be, as well as the dependability of those installing the fence. If there is a good chance the fence installers will trample the vines – or the installation process may result in accidentally cutting into the roots – your plants will need to be dug up and moved out of the way until after the fence is installed.

Step 2:
The most delicate part of this operation will be removing the vines from the fence. If you have large sections of vines, work a section at a time, following the same procedures. Choose which side of the fence you will work on: this should be the side where the plants grow out of the ground.

Step 3:
Lay the tarp on this side of the fence, leaving a little room for your feet. (You can step on the tarp, but it’s safer to stand directly on the ground.)

Step 4:
Choose one vine to start, find its starting point at the ground, and using your finger, trace its path up the fence to the end. Working from that end, begin to untangle the vine from the fence. At times, you will need to carefully wind the vine in and out of the fencing (depending on the type of vine and the kind of fence).

Step 5:
If the vines have runners that attach to the fence, gently remove them. Some may break, and that’s fine. You may find it necessary to clip a few with your pruners or scissors. If you break a vine, don’t panic. Just keep working with the rest of the vine as best you can. Accept that you may lose a few pieces … and they’ll grow back.

Step 6:
As you remove the vine from the fence, gently lay it on the tarp. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a straight line or curved into a manageable position, but don’t pile it so that it becomes entangled. Also be careful that you don’t break the vine from the plant at the ground.

Step 7:
Spray with a liquid seaweed solution. I use liquid seaweed any time I transplant plants and have found it helps them avoid shock. I highly recommend it! Liquid seaweed can be found at some gardening centers or any organic gardening store, as well as online. The cost is generally around ten dollars and has many uses.

Step 8:
Repeat the process until all vines are removed from the fence and resting on the tarp.

Step 9:
If the sun is bright, you may want to cover the vines with some burlap and then spray the burlap with a gentle spray of water. This is optional and you should use your good judgment, depending on the type of vine and how delicate it is.

Step 10:
If it is necessary to dig up the vines, you will have to work carefully. If possible, remove the section of old fence first so you have more room. Dig around the plant and carefully dig up the roots, being careful to not break the stems.

Step 11:
Place the root ball in a bucket, or wrap in burlap and secure in place with landscape staples.

Step 12:
Again, spray the vines with the seaweed spray. Water the root ball thoroughly. If you have completed this step and removed the plants from the ground, it is important to install the fence as quickly as possible, keeping the roots moist the entire time.

Step 13:
After the new fence is installed, it’s time to put the vines back in place. If the plants were removed from the ground, return them to their homes and lightly tamp the ground. If you have some compost, sprinkle a handful or two around each plant, then water. (Water even if you have no compost.) Don’t fertilize at this time, especially with non-organic products. They are undergoing some shock (the severity will vary depending on type of plant and whether or not they were removed from the ground), and fertilizing can be risky.

Step 14:
Now you’re ready to put the vines back on your new fence! Be sure to leave a little extra room from ground stem to the bottom of the fence, and begin to attach the vine to the fence. Using Velcro garden tape will be the easiest to work with, but strips of pantyhose work fine as well. Don’t be tempted to attach in too many places – when the vines re-establish themselves, they will do what they want. Just attach in enough spots to hold the vines in place. At the top, if there is extra vine, drape it back and forth without attaching. Continue this process until all the vines are back in place.

Step 15:
Give the vines one more good spray of liquid seaweed, then let them be. They may wilt for a day, and some vines may not make it. If they look distressed, continue to spray seaweed solution to help them through the shock. You can’t overdo the seaweed.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may wear gloves, although you may find it easier to untangle the vines without gloves. If you do not choose gloves, be sure to wash your hands before you start to avoid the spread of the disease.
  • If you smoke, wash your hands after each cigarette to avoid diseases that originate in tobacco.
  • Choose a cloudy day, if possible. You want to make the process as easy on the plants as you can.
  • If you have a garden stool, have it handy. When unraveling vines at the bottom, it will be more comfortable to sit instead of stooping or kneeling.
  • If you are doing this in the fall, skip the fertilizer completely until spring, unless it’s a specific vine and instructions say differently. Plants need to go dormant in winter and fertilizer encourages growth.

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