Landscape Installation: Proper Spacing
Although you might be inclined to purchase the tallest plants for all of your beds and get them planted, I prefer to break down the installation by garden. I recommend purchasing all the plants for a particular area of the yard, tree-to-tree, patio-to-gate, etc.
The layout of an area of the garden is much easier when you have all the plants on-site. So, sometimes, shopping can take more than a day or more than a weekend. No rush. As I mentioned earlier, winter is the second best season for planting because plants are asleep and better off in the ground in your yard than above-ground at the nurseries.
Water all the buckets when you first get them home. Then keep an eye on the top layer of soil until you’re ready to plant. Remember to soak all the plants the night before you intend to install. This will swell the roots and help them transition better.
Now, place all the buckets in the approximate locations according to your plan. Here’s the trick… push yourself outside your comfort zone by NOT providing equal distances between all plants. Envision your plants at mature size. Those Winterberry will get 8’ tall, those Encore Azalea will mature at 4’, and those Abelia ‘Kaleidoscope’ will tap out at 2’, and in most instances, just as wide. You have to account for mature size now to achieve a low-maintenance yard in the future. If you give in to spacing your plants based on what looks right today, you’ll eventually have a mess on your hands or be faced with frequent pruning. The spacing will seem odd in the beginning and perhaps for a year or two. But, keep in mind, the first year plants sleep, the second year they creep, and then they leap. Have patience. With proper spacing, your yard will age beautifully.
As we discussed during the planning phase, unless you are planting in a narrow space or against a linear edge, place the buckets in zig-zag patterns or triangles. We are trying to imitate Mother Nature, who never sows her seeds in straight lines. This can be very difficult for some of us, almost a painful process for others, but it is absolutely essential to creating a natural design.
Once the buckets are placed, stand back and look at the bed from several different viewing angles. If you find yourself fussing with the location of the buckets for too long, go with what you like from the most frequently viewed spot in the house or yard, i.e. kitchen window. Then take a break.
Now you’re finally ready to plant, which we’ll discuss next time. I have to admit, I do bend the planting rules and get away with it most of the time. Plants are more particular about proper sun exposure, irrigation, planting depth, and good soil contact and not so much about soil amendments, hole width, and starter fertilizers. Until next time…
Welcome to my journal. For over 20 years I've created original landscape plans to help homeowners increase property value and really enjoy their yards. I approach every project as an unique opportunity to develop a work of living art, one that will require minimal care and age beautifully with time. In this journal, I will share some of my field experiences and tricks of the trade with you. Feel free to email questions. Thanks for visiting.