Updated: May 20
When we plan our outdoor spaces we must take in consideration that every plant needs vital space both in-ground and out, here are a few reasons.
Enough space for roots: roots are the anchor and part of the structure of a plant, if we left just a small space for their expansion the plant would suffer the effects of winds and bad weather tipping over with the root ball literally coming out of the ground.
In order to avoid this problem, typical of trees even when they're small, the remedy would be to tie them to a wall or support with bands and sticks, especially when they are transplanted and need some time to develop strong roots.
Enough space for plants' canopies: plants, when planted in extra numbers end up suffering because of lack of air circulation that works towards creating the conditions for pests and fungi spreading.
It's important that each plant has enough ventilation around its crown to purify the air, with no humidity eccess.
A good trick is to mix tall and short plants, to allow air circulation.
As you may know, besides being the anchor to the ground, roots are also the mean through which plants absorb nutrients from the soil. So it is necessary that each plant has enough space in-ground to gather enough nutriments, otherwise stolen by the bigger and stronger plants.
In addition in potted conditions, especially in some types of pots such as terracotta ones, soil tends to dry rapidly. Water is the element through which roots absorb nutrients therefore it is necessary to irrigate regurarly e control the moist in the soil.
The most direct method to do so is to stick your finger in the ground (2-3cm in), if the soil is dry then it's time to water it.
On the other side, there are a few good reasons why it is best not to spread new plants too far away from each other:
- First one is about water: the more space between the plants, the more water we'll consume. In general when we water plants we cover the whole soil surface, but if there are big gaps amongst plants water will be partly wasted. The best is to distribute plants in a zig zag scheme more than in lines, this also gives a more attractive visual effect.
- Another good reason not to leave too much space between one plant and another is that we give potential room to weeds to grow, increasing the maintenance tasks in the garden. Maintenance also includes fertilization that is reduced as well when plants are spread at the correct distance.
The best way to plan the outdoors is to draw up the spaces we have and distribute the species on the paper using the same scale, utilizing the final plants' dimensions and guaranteeing the correct space to each of them. For every species it's possible to get spacing information from the nurseries or the suggested number of plants per square meter, whilst for seeds we can find spacing information on the seeds package.