How to Space Plants in your Landscape

UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.
UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

Most people know that an attractive landscape adds to the value of a home. For most of us, the landscape also represents a hefty investment of money, time and work so it’s important to know enough about landscape design to do the job right.

An important step in developing an attractive landscape is spacing plant materials correctly. Plants should be placed in the landscape in relation to each other, and with some understanding of their ultimate height, spread, and growth rate. However, the endless variety of plant sizes and shapes can easily complicate this matter for the home gardener.

How the plant is used in the landscape will determine its shape to a large extent. For example, if a plant is part of a hedge row, it should be placed close to the other plants so that in a few years, all of them grow together. If you want to retain the individual shape of each plant space the plants further apart.

Spacing trees correctly is very important as trees are the largest and most permanent of all landscape materials. Here are a few examples of some ways to use trees effectively around the home:

  • Pine trees look very good as a tall background screen in the landscape. To have the trees work as a screen, plant them eight to twelve feet apart measuring from the center of one tree to the center of the next.
  • Mass planting of dogwood, redbud and crape myrtle make brilliant assets to your landscape. If these trees are spaced about 12 to 15 feet apart, the top foliage should meet in a few years. When these trees are in bloom, the mass plantings will enhance their show of flowers.
  • An oak tree planted on the west side of your lot will provide shade for your home, the tree should be planted about thirty feet from side of the house, to prevent tree limbs from eventually crowding the house.

As you can see, it’s important to learn as much as possible about trees you select for your landscape. In spite of the few examples given you, there is no single standard recommendation on spacing trees in the home landscape. This is because most of the popular landscape trees can range from 10 to 100 feet in height, and vary as much in spread. Specialists recommend that the minimum spacing for landscape trees should be one half of the spread of the tree’s mature canopy from other trees, from walls and other existing structures. But even this minimum spacing may vary among different varieties of the same species. For specific spacing requirements for the tree you are interested in check with your local County Extension Office.


To review briefly, correct spacing of plant materials is an important step in developing an attractive landscape. Whenever you plant a tree or a shrub in your landscape, you should do so with careful consideration of the plant’s ultimate height, spread and rate of growth.



Posted: April 27, 2015

Category: Horticulture
Tags: Garden Design, General Gardening, Panhandle Gardening, Plant Spacing, Planting, Shrubs, Trees

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