A Garden Guide to Spacing Shrubs

By Norman Winter

There is nothing quite like the spring azalea season to make you want to get out and plant – and of course, with Encore® Azaleas, there is a spring bloom, summer bloom and another dazzling crescendo in the fall. Eager as we are, sometimes our garden planning can hit a snag as we question the correct spacing for azaleas.

Here at Encore®, we have been watching our azaleas for more than 20 years, and we have some tips on spacing to help you achieve your landscape goals.

Our first suggestion is to plant your shrubs according to their mature width. We know you will find various sizes of containers when you go to the garden center. This may tempt you to plant too close if you are buying younger plants. So, here’s a quick guide: if the mature spread of your azalea is 3 feet, then set your azaleas in the ground 3-feet-apart on center. This will allow your azaleas to touch and form a formal hedge at maturity.

If you prefer a mounded natural look with space between plants, then consider 4- to 5-foot spacing on center. Regardless of your style, each Encore® Azalea tag will give you the mature width to use as your planting and spacing guide.

You may be thinking, “This information helps if I am planting azaleas together, but how far should I plant from the house or foundation?” If the mature spread or width of the plant is 3 feet, you could technically plant them half that distance – or 18 inches – from the home, allowing the shrub to spread in each direction.

There are considerations, however. Will you need to get behind the Encore® Azaleas to wash windows, or do other home maintenance? If this is the case, then adjust your spacing – ladders are pretty big!

Also, consider the roofline. Do you have gutters, or does the roof slope create your neighborhood version of a waterfall? Obviously, the waterfall will create another need for additional space as very few plants can survive the onslaught of such a heavy water source.

Let’s assume you love Encore® Azaleas, but perhaps you want to add some companion plants. You may be wondering how to determine the spacing of your Encore® Azaleas from a large foundation shrub like Southern Living® Plant Collection’s Robin™ Holly.

Robin™ Holly will reach 15- to 20-feet in height and has a spread of 12- to 15-feet. In our beginning example, we determined the azalea would have a spread of 3 feet. So, add the 3-feet of the azalea and the 15-feet of the Robin™ Holly, which equals 18-feet. Divide the 18-feet by half, and the answer – or suggested spacing – would be 9-feet-apart from each other.

Whether it’s math for spacing or how to choose Encore® Azaleas for your landscape, we’re here to help. We love our azaleas as much as you do!

TIP: When the landscape is a blank slate, and the pocketbook needs a little TLC, consider buying smaller trees and larger shrubs. Small trees acclimate quickly, while buying larger shrubs creates an immediate impact and leads to proper spacing.