This is a topic I could write many posts on. Plant spacing errors are probably the most common mistake people make. And although there are other cultural considerations when selecting a plant (afterall, it is a living thing), being aware of a plant’s potential size, and spacing it accordingly is key.
For me, knowing a plant’s mature size and “growth habit” is a combination of some research (books, internet), but also experience. I say experience because I may have different conclusions on plant size based on years of observing a plant’s growth. For example, I’ve learned that different environmental / site conditions can have an affect on how a plant grows.
When in doubt, take an average of the size projections the research talks about. But let me just say that you need to be practical about these size projections. If in your arrangements you were to space your plants “by the book,” you’d probably have too much space between them. There are certainly happy mediums. But this is a vast topic and one we’ll talk about further in future posts.
These two pictures give an example of improper plant spacing between large growing shade trees and large growing conifers. I can understand the motivation to bring in variety, but there obviously was no forethought to how these distinctly different plant types would grow together in the years to come.
Both the conifers (evergreens) and the shade trees will want to get huge. Now they appear quite “happy” together. However, in several years the spreading branches of the evergreens will reach into the widening canopy of the shade tree. The results will not be pretty as each one becomes disfigured from the other’s competition.
Take a look around. I’m sure you’ll see many examples of these common plant spacing mistakes. It doesn’t have to happen. With a little planning and foresight, plantings like these can develop into the beauties they were meant to be.
I drive by landscapes I installed many years ago and see plant spacing errors. There is just so much to learn about the many types of plants and the situations we install them in. Hopefully we all get better with our designs and arrangements with each one we install.
Have you changed your plant spacing habits from previous experiences? Feel free to comment below.