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Native Plant Guide

Information and Services for King County, Washington

Plant spacing preferences

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Are you trying to do more of a habitat restoration project with a denser, natural aesthetic requiring minimal care? Or are you aiming for more of a traditional landscape? Learning the advantages and disadvantages of both, may help you decide.

Natural Landscape
Dense planting creates vegetation that will more quickly out-compete invasive weeds. It allows for some plants to die without impacting the overall landscape. Plant spacing for these projects could be 10-15 feet apart for large trees, 5-10 feet for small trees and shrubs and 1-3 feet apart for groundcovers. Groundcover in this case should be larger and hardier, like sword fern, rather than small plants like Western columbine that would be quickly out-competed.

Dense planting advantages
1.Out-competes weeds faster
2.Doesnt require replanting following a few plant deaths
3.Requires less maintenance
4.Provides excellent habitat for a variety of species
5.Reduces long term maintenance costs

Dense planting disadvantages
1.Requires more plants.
2.Costs more up front.
3.Requires more time to install.
4.Desirable herbaceous groundcovers can be outcompeted.
5.Appearance is a little wild for some tastes.

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