Establishing a Garden

Gardens are constantly changing. Think of watching a rhododendron bud swell and finally burst open on a sunny May afternoon or remembering a tall tree as a sapling, planted years ago in celebration of a new life or in memory of a loved one.

This change is important factor when you’re planning a garden. Because different plants have different rates of growth, forecasting what a garden will look like two, five or 10 years from now is a vital part of landscape design.

Choosing Your Plants

Rhododendron ‘Point Fosdick’

Plant selection comes near the end of the design process, after primary features and style of a garden are established. Aesthetic qualities such as color, texture and seasonal interest are important, but make sure to factor plants’ mature size and growth rate into the equation. When I’m formulating a garden design, I first group plants together based on their role in the plan and then finalize my plant list based on how the plants and trees that I have selected will interact. (It can be tempting to choose a favorite plant, but it might not be the right one for your garden. Some discipline is required to create a cohesive design that holds up over time!)

When choosing plants for a special condition, such as privacy screening, we need to decide how long we are willing to wait to achieve our goal. Factoring in the rate of growth and the mature size is helpful when determining what size specimen to start with.

Filling the Space

Spacing tiny plants according to what they will look like in 10 years seems practical, but it may take five years or more to achieve the intended result. That’s a long time to wait. For immediate impact, choose mature plants (if they can be found) or plant more densely. Keep in mind that in a couple years this may start to look overgrown and plants may suffer as they compete for light and nutrients. Pruning will help, but eventually some plants will need to be removed to keep the overall design healthy and looking good. That’s called gardening!

Need some help with garden design? Contact me to begin your plan for summer and year-round.