Space Shrubs for Long Term Success – and Easier Maintenance
February 2022. By John Cook: You can’t hurry love, and the fastest path to a garden with deep, lush, protective shrubbery may be counter to our initial desires as well! We find that healthy plant-partnerships require us to offer high-value foliage three kinds of space at the start of our relationships – a productive beginning is one in which all parties plan for trajectory, accept the present, and leave room for growth.
Plan for Trajectory
It’s important to honor the trajectory of your garden’s greatest assets. While this is true of everyone in your garden, it’s particularly true for those with the potential for great heights. Before you place a large shrub or any tree, look out for the limitations that may inhibit their ability to achieve their full potential.
Tip: You may be able to mitigate some situations, but roof and power lines usually are what they are. Realism is important – perpetually pruning a shrub’s height will inhibit their happiness and yours.
Accept The Present
When what you want is 6 feet of lush, leafy, privacy-protecting greenery, it can be hard to accept a sapling the size of a Starbucks Venti as-is. Yet, the Venti-sized sapling is typically the go-getter who will quickly surpass his 4-gallon brother. (That guy may love bomb you for a year, but he’ll struggle to adapt in years 2-3.)
Tip: Plant small. Not only will your foliage be healthier, you’ll have a better return on investment.
Leave Room for Growth
It’s not just height. As plants age, their girth expands too! Here, we see so many create untenable relationships, right from the start. When plants are placed too close to one another, the long term consequences are onerous annual “brush clearance,” failures to thrive, and many maintenance hassles. All of this can be avoided by ensuring everyone has space to breathe.
Tip: When determining the space necessary, place Venti in the center of his full-sized growth potential. Understand the likely sprawl. A Venti Catalina Cherry has the potential to have a 6ft circumference – that means leaving 3 feet for growth on all sides and 6 ft, Venti-to- Venti, if you intend to create a harvest-ready hedge.
Giving loved ones space in your garden will go a long way toward building a happy long-term relationships. You’ll know you’ve done it right when, 3-5 years down the road, most everyone is at or nearing their full potential, unobstructed and without argument from companion plants.
To see trees and shrubs spaced for harmony over the long-haul, stop by the Authentic Foothill Gardens. You’ll see the hedge above now beautifully covers the brick behind it. You could also join us at our 2022 Native Plant Garden Tour properties for more examples.