You can get vines to do things that other landscaping plants aren't willing or able to do. You can use vines, for example, to mimic the look and feel of tall shrubs when you don't have enough horizontal room for the shrubs' boughs to sprawl. Vines clamber over arbors and pergolas, giving a feeling of enclosure and seasonal change without heavy construction. Vines trail and spill over walls, to soften harsh architectural lines. They can even stop erosion when they're planted along the top surfaces of stone retaining walls.Put in other terms, vines belong in almost everyone's landscape. Spring is a great time to plant vines, making this the perfect time to outline a few crucial details. Nurseries will soon be getting their best supplies of the season, so do your planning now, and spend time getting to know the various vines and how they might fit into your future.How vines climbKnowing how a particular vine attains its mature height is essential for deciding how you'll be able to use it. Not all vines operate in the same way."Hold-fasts" and suction cups: These are the clinging vines. They grab their supports like a child grabs its parent's leg in a thunderstorm. These natural clamps may look like tiny roots (English ivy) or like some moon-rover pod (Boston ivy). But, whatever the look, their function is to stick the vines securely to their supports. These vines won't hurt masonry surfaces. They don't cause cracks to form in mortar, nor do they draw moisture out of bricks, stone and cement. But they do adhere tightly, and if you ever tire of the vine in that location, getting rid of these suction cups may require a wire brush. For that reason, you don't want to use clinging vines on wood or vinyl siding or fences.Tendrils: Some vines reach out and latch onto supports via tendrils that uncoil like an insect's tongue. These vines have no way of climbing a masonry wall unless they're given a support. Grapes are the most common example of plants with tendrils, and you'd want to construct a strong wire support that would allow you to train (and prune) your grapevines each year -- probably several times every year. Crossvines are one of the more common woody landscape vines that produce tendrils.Twining vines: These operate like green constrictors, wrapping around their supports. Honeysuckle, Carolina jessamine, wisteria and Madame Galen trumpetcreeper are common examples. Many of our annual vines, including morning glories, moonvine, hyacinth beans and clock vines, twine. This entire group, as with the types that produce tendrils, must have some extra means of support. If you have a solid wall, you can either screw or hammer anchors into mortar joints, or you can build a sturdy trellis out of wrought iron or 4-by-4-inch and 2-by-4-inch lumber or pipe supports. Anything that is smaller will likely warp, buckle and fail. A support of this sort could be positioned 8 to 15 inches away from the house, so you'd have the benefit of the vine without having to use one that affixed itself directly to the wall.Leaning plants: This is an odd and small group of plants that we sometimes use as vines. Climbing roses are the most visible examples. No rose is truly a vining plant. All try to be shrubby, but the ones we call "climbers" lack stem strength. They sprawl without form unless we train them onto trellises or arbors. The important thing in training climbing roses is to time any major pruning and reshaping for immediately after they finish blooming in spring. They produce their flower buds on stems that grew the prior year, and the winter pruning we give standard bush roses would remove climbers' primordial buds for that spring's bloom. You'll also want to train them to grow two-dimensionally, that is, flat against their supports. Prune to remove all shoots that break that plane, and that extend out and away from the support. That pruning should be done as soon as you see the need, regardless of the season.If this is the year that you're going to try new vines in your gardens, look for the types that best suit your several needs. Nurseries are beginning to stock up for spring. You'll find vines sold in 1-gallon pots, sometimes in larger containers. The smaller sizes usually work just as well, since these plants establish and grow quickly.Most vines will have been grown on small stakes. Don't try to remove the stakes. Simply set the plants into the ground, as close to their supports as you can. Tilt the plants slightly, so that the tops of the stakes rest against the sides of the supports. Depending on the types of vines that you've chosen, they should start twining or sticking almost immediately. Eventually, the small stake will decay and fall away.Neil Sperry publishes "Gardens" magazine and hosts "Texas Gardening" from 8 to 11 a.m. Sundays on WBAP AM/FM. Reach him during those hours at 800-288-9227 or 214-787-1820.