How to Design Your Landscape like a Pro…Proper Plant Spacing

Cool season vegetables in a cedar raised bed.

Cool season vegetables in a cedar raised bed.

Do you want to avoid messing up your landscape in a hurry?

  • Don’t space your plants too close together…

Plants need space to flourish and become self sufficient. Sunlight creates healthy branching.

Without proper space, sunlight is blocked by other plants and the shrub will become stunted and grow weird. I’ll explain this later.

Even avid gardeners are guilty of dense planting. (It’s ok to plant your veggies close together if you are harvesting every other one…)

I’ll give one exception to this rule.
Green velvet boxwood transplanted Fall 2013.

Boxwood hedge planted densely to grow together quickly.

If you want to develop a privacy screening hedge quickly, space the plants closer than the tag says. This is the only exception I have today. For everything else, follow the guidelines from a reference like university websites, plant tag, or ag. extension recommendation.

Just Do This One Thing Or You’ll Be Sorry

Read the spacing guidelines on the tag at the garden center.

The plants may look funny and far apart now, but you’ll be glad you spaced them in five years.

  • Proper spacing saves you money because you’ll need less plants.

If the tag says the plant will reach 10′ tall x 10′ wide, then leave at least 8′ between the plants.

After you’ve made a purchase and brought your plants home, space them with a measuring tape while they are still in the container. Visualize what they space will look like in five years using the researched spacing guidelines.

I regularly use flags on metal stakes to arrange the location of beds and plants before I purchase. Rocks and bricks also make excellent markers for your plant layout.

Drive and walk by the proposed bed and visualize what the project will look like when completed. Move the plant markers around. I commonly move them two times over a week period.

Remember, design the shape of planting beds with your lawn mower and lawn shape in mind. Make the beds easy to drive near with a riding mower or walk around with the push mower. I often make this mistake and have tough corners to navigate and mow!

Start with small plants or a small area of your landscape the first year. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. I recommend starting with the foundation of your home. Plant evergreen shrubs around the foundation. This is pleasing to the eye and the shrubs will be near a water hose for easy care giving.