Garden Design: Proper Plant Spacing is Critical
Take a good look around your garden. Are any plants spaced too closely together? Does it look like an overgrown jungle? Or are you looking at patches of bare ground? None of these are particularly attractive looks for a garden, but are easily avoided by doing one simple thing – reading and following the spacing recommendation on the plant label.
Proper plant spacing is determined by the mature size of the plant, not by the size when you buy it. So many gardeners look at a small, 1-gallon plant and think “It’s really little. If I plant these 20” apart like the label says, there’ll be far too much empty space between the plants. I’ll space them 10” apart instead.” It makes sense, doesn’t it? But the next year, you’ll be digging up overcrowded plants and spacing them 20” apart!
From a design perspective, sometimes you do want plants to grow into each other for a more casual look, to provide support for ‘floppy’ plants, or to hide unsightly foliage from plants that are going dormant or have leggy stems. However, this doesn’t mean that plants should be packed in next to each other. They still need space for air to circulate to prevent disease like powdery mildew and other fungal problems.
As you design your garden, plan out plant spacing on paper and follow your plan by using a measuring tape or yard-stick when planting. This will prevent you from ‘eyeballing’ spacing distances when you’re planting – we all have a tendency to underestimate distances, causing us to plant things too closely. Working from a paper design plan and measuring carefully will keep you honest!
So read the plant label carefully and don’t be tempted to plant closer than the label suggests – you’ll just be making more work for yourself next year!
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