The Concept of Proximity in the Garden

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Proximity is one of the most difficult things I deal with in the landscape design business. The reason this is so difficult is because plants do not always grow to the exact heights and widths that are published in a book or even a catalog written by a grower. Depending on where an author or grower lives can have a great effect on how large plants may get in that particular area opposed to mine. Two other factors that can contribute to differences in size are light and moisture conditions.

There are good books on plants and there are bad books on plants. One way to determine a books worth is whether it has zone ratings for the plants listed. If not its recycle bin material more times than not for me. Two books I rely on are Michael Dirr’s Manual of Woody Landscape Plants (fifth edition) and The American Horiculture Society A to Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. These two books can help you put into perspective how large a plant may get. Look for books that have lots of Zone 3-7 plants in them. These are most applicable to our area which is Zone 5. If a book is by an author in Tennessee and you see lots of zone 6-9 plants you will not gain much useful info if gardening in the Midwest.

At one time I had an assistant designer that was formally trained and she told me when drawing a design she would only draw a plant to two thirds of its mature size listed in the literature. This rule has its place as well. Many times it is important to take into consideration how long you will be living at the residence you are landscaping. Do not fool yourself. The people that will follow you will probably not like what you like and may very well rip everything out. It is sad but true. So that being said design for yourself in most cases unless you are landscaping to resell your house.

Knowing what we know now, to design with proximity in mind generally requires some bookwork. Even after twenty plus years in the business sometimes I still look plants up when drawing a design. There is always more to learn about plants.

It is important to take the shape of plants into consideration when considering proximity. A eight foot wide Japanese Maple ‘Fireglow’ which is vase shaped can go reasonably close to a “Sester’s Dwarf” Blue Spruce which is pyramidal because they fit together like puzzle pieces. If drawing a design with circles at ¼” scale as I do your Fireglow would overlap your “Sester’s Dwarf” by 2’ or so.

There is a lot of gray area in regards to proximity, eighty percent or so. The black and white part to me personally is the 2/3 rule mentioned earlier. That being said this is more an artistic endeavor than a one of hard science.

Consider proximity when designing your landscape. Taking it into consideration can put many extra years on a design.


  1. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely donate to this superb blog!
    I suppose for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed
    to my Google account. I look forward to brand new updates
    and will talk about this website with my Facebook group.
    Talk soon!

  2. Hello would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using?

    I’m looking to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a tough time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most
    blogs and I’m looking for something unique. P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had
    to ask!

  3. Hello there, I found your website by the use of Google
    even as looking for a similar subject, your website came up, it appears good.
    I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.
    Hello there, simply was aware of your weblog through Google,
    and located that it’s really informative.
    I am going to be careful for brussels. I will appreciate for those who proceed this in future.
    A lot of other folks might be benefited out of your writing.

  4. Pingback:
  5. Have you ever thought about publishing an e-book or guest authoring on other sites?
    I have a blog based upon on the same information you discuss and would really like to have you share
    some stories/information. I know my visitors
    would appreciate your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to send me an e mail.

  6. Hey there, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues.

    When I look at your blog site in Ie, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer,
    it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Other then that, superb blog!

  7. Definitely imagine that which you stated. Your favorite justification appeared to be at the net the easiest thing to have in mind of.

    I say to you, I definitely get irked while folks
    consider issues that they just do not recognize about.

    You controlled to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the entire thing without having side-effects , other folks could
    take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thank you

  8. Usually I don’t learn article on blogs, but I would like to say that this
    write-up very forced me to try and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me.
    Thank you, very nice article.

  9. Everything is very open with a very clear explanation of the issues.

    It was really informative. Your site is very useful.
    Many thanks for sharing!

  10. Hey there! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 3gs!
    Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Keep up the outstanding work!

  11. Pingback: 24 dating 16 gay
  12. У нас тринадцать самых популярных сериалов для поклонников тайны.
    Бумажный дом 5 сезон 7 серия смотреть онлайн
    смотреть онлайн. Выбирайте по дате
    выхода, Сериалы жанра “Драма”.
    Ещё мы выдает программу телеканалов Культура, HD Paramount Comedy Россия, 4K Звезда, прямой
    эфир Наше новое кино, трансляция Мир.