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Planning a Garden – How to Space Plants Correctly

One of the most common landscaping problems is plants that are spaced incorrectly within a design. When plants are spaced too close together, or too close to the house, they can overgrow their space, crowding each other, losing interior leaves, and deteriorating. When plants are spaced too far apart they leave room for weeds to grow, and fail to be impactful from a design point of view. Read on to learn more about selecting and spacing plants within your garden.

One common reason for incorrectly spaced plants is unfamiliarity with the size of a plant at maturity. Butterfly Bush is a good example of this issue – as it is available in a range of cultivars from those that reach 3 feet tall and wide to those that reach 10 feet tall and wide. And, these plants look remarkably similar in the nursery when in a 3 gallon pot. To be sure you’re spacing a plant correctly, make sure you know the full botanical name, including cultivar, and then research the size that this plant reaches at maturity. If the plant is said to be 3’ by 3’, be sure that there are at least 3’ of space from the center of one plant to the next, or more if you want space between them at maturity.

Once you’ve selected the right plant for your garden you have to decide in which size to purchase it. With lots of great garden centers in North Carolina, you can find plants in a range of sizes from 1 gallon up to 30 gallon and beyond. I encourage clients to plant specimens, screen plantings, and trees in at least a 7 gallon, and up from there depending on their budget and patience for a plant to grow. Foundation shrubs I plant in a 3 gallon, with perennials, groundcovers and grasses in 1 gallon pots or even quarts.

The goal of any design should be to look great at installation AND at maturity. This requires an understanding of the growth rate of a plant as well as how to purchase a plant that fits into your garden. Need help? Contact Bright Leaf Landscaping at (919) 475-1015 or fill out our online contact form. Design and installation are our expertise, and we are always happy to meet with new clients to discuss potential projects!