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Deciding How Far Apart to Plant Large Trees

15 years ago


After a day at a botanical garden, I have questions about how far apart to plant large trees - bald cypresses, dawn redwoods, deodara cedars, oaks, maples, tulip polars.

The tags usually say to plant these trees at least 25 feet apart, often 50 feet apart. Since the trees I'm planting are small (i.e., white oak: 2.5-3 ft; maples: 6-8 ft; tulip tree: 4-5 feet; bald cypresses: 5 to 8 feet), these trees are nearly lost in the 4-5 acre field between the house and road. (I tied lightweight orange ribbon around the small ones so I wouldn't accidently cut them down when mowing the field)

Last week, I went to the Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond with a camera and notebook. The first thing I noticed was a group of tall deodara cedars planted on a berm - 10-12 ft apart. A group of 4 dawn redwoods was 6 feet apart.

At the entrance to the main building are two groves of dawn redwoods - 9-12 feet apart.

In addition to taking notes and photos, I ended up measuring distances between trees. In every single case, trees were planted much closer than than recommended.

* Dawn redwoods: 6 feet apart in one place, 9-12 feet apart in another

* Chinese Elms: 8 feet apart

* Gingkos: 12-15 feet apart

* Bald and pond cypresses: 6-8 ft apart, sometimes a little less or more

I finally stopped measuring because the trees were always planted closer than recommended.

Question: How do you make decisions about spacing trees?

I'm planting lots of small trees that will grow into large trees- eventually. I like the fact that I can plant trees much closer together than recommended on the nursery tags. But how do you know what is "too close"?

Many thanks.


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