Overgrown Gardens

Dear Expert: About five years ago, I planted a mix of shrubs and perennials. It’s looking overgrown and crowded now. Where did I go wrong?

A: As you plan and plant your landscape, save yourself a lot of headaches and heartaches by leaving plants room to grow! Trees, shrubs, and perennials are happier and healthier if given space to reach the mature size in their genetic programming. Along with light and water requirements, mature size and available space for your new plant(s) should be a top consideration when selecting plants.

As a result, the average homeowner may need to implement more patience and long-term perspective when designing their landscape. Investing in a professional landscape designer and working from a well thought-out plan will save potential issues from arising down the road—and can ultimately save money. Creative ways to fill in the temporary blank spaces in your yard while waiting for your permanent plants to grow and fill in such as: a group of containers filled with annuals, a trellis to screen an unsightly view, or a piece of sculpture that can be moved to another spot when the plants have filled in.

Over planting because of impatience will cause you frustration and disappointment as the plants under perform, making more work later when you have to try to transplant or even prematurely remove that wonderful plant for which you paid your hardearned money.

—Stephanie Girgen, landscape designer with Selfscapes and a GardenMinnesota.com blogger