How to Space Your Plants Properly

Spacing plants appropriately is one thing that many of us struggle with for our entire gardening lives. When we start planting our bedding plants in the garden, it seems like the recommended spacing is way too generous. “There’s no way they’ll get that big,” we think as we tuck them in 2-3 inches closer than they should be. But they will get that big. And having plants too close together can cause lower yields at harvest time, require more watering, and make it easy for pests and disease to spread through the garden fast. If your plants were too crowded last year, take a ruler with you this year when you plant.

What is meant by plant spacing?

Simply put, spacing is the distance between two plants in a garden. When spacing is too close, plants may “touch” each other and interfere with one another. When spacing is too far, only a few plants can be grown and harvested in time. There are many different ways to determine the spacing between different plants in a garden. Some people prefer to simply eye it and add some extra space around each plant based on their own preferences and the looks they want in their garden. While this can work, we recommend using a ruler to make sure that you are spacing your plants properly.

Why does plant spacing matter?

If two plants are too close together, they might interfere with each other’s growth. Or, if the plants are too far apart, they might not be able to get enough water or that only a few plants can be grown in the limited space. They may also compete with each other for resources like sunlight, soil, and nutrients. When plant spacing is off, these problems and more can occur in your garden. To prevent potential problems when spacing your plants, take a ruler or measuring tape with you to your garden. You can use the ruler to measure the spacing between different plants in your garden. If you start with 2 feet between your first and second plants and you find that you need to add 3 feet between your third and fourth plants, then you know that you spaced your plants too close last time.

How much space do plants need?

There are a few different factors that will determine how much space you need between plants in a garden. One of the key factors is the size of the plant you are spacing. Another factor is the size of the area you are planting in. And finally, you have to take into account the type of plant you are planting in the garden. These next few examples will help you get an idea of how much space you need in your garden for different types of plants. If you are planting a large perennial, keep in mind that the plants will get much taller than the example below (so about twice as tall). If you are planting a small annual, keep in plant spacing in mind.

Large Perennials

Large perennials, such as Sasparilla or Coreopsis, are probably not going to need much more than 2 feet between them. If you have a large garden, you can certainly plant them further apart than 2 feet. If you plant Sasparilla in the front of your garden and an evergreen shrub like an American Beauty or Blue Spruce is between the two, they may compete with each other and cause some issues. If you plant Sasparilla in the back of your garden and an annual like snapdragon is close to the other annuals, it may become too crowded and have problems with pests and diseases. 


The most important thing to remember when spacing your annuals is to leave enough space between them so that they have enough room to grow. If you have a short strip of land in the back of your garden where you are planting annuals, you can certainly plant them closer than the recommended 2-3 feet. But, if you want to plant an entire bed of annuals in your garden, you should leave at least 4 feet between them. These annuals are going to grow much taller than typical edibles like tomatoes or peppers do (up to about 5-6 feet tall). They also have much more surface area, so you need to leave more space between them.


There are many different types of vegetables that you can grow in your garden, such as tomatoes, peppers, beans, and cucumbers. These plants all grow best by being planted in the ground. So, the most important thing to keep in mind when spacing your vegetables is that they need space to grow. When planting tomatoes in the vegetable garden, leave at least 5 feet of open space in between each plant. Tomatoes have a lot of “feet”, so they will need plenty of room to spread. When planting peppers in the vegetable garden, leave at least 3 feet of open space between each pepper plant. Peppers have a tendency to climb and spread, so you need to leave plenty of room between them.


Herbs are unique in that they require a different plant spacing pattern than vegetables. When spacing herbs like parsley, thyme, and basil, you want to plant no closer than 2-3 inches apart. This spacing will allow the herbs to spread out and use as much space as possible without crowding each other out. It will also help prevent diseases and pests from affecting the entire garden as each herb will have its own area to grow.

What to do if you planted too tightly

If you did plant too close to one another and are seeing some issues, then the first thing to do is to try spacing your plants out again. If you have really crowded your plants, you may have to just leave them as is. Don’t try to pull them apart or force them any closer together. Just leave them where they are. 

What to do if you planted too far apart

If you spaced your plants correctly, but they are not thriving, then chances are you spaced them too far apart. Try spacing the plants out again, but this time closer together. If the spacing was correct but they just aren’t doing well, then check the soil to make sure there isn’t something wrong with it. If you find something, you can use it to fertilize your plants or get rid of it.

How to fit more plants into your garden

When you start spacing your plants properly, you may find that you can fit more into your garden than you originally thought. You can plant your bedding plants closer together, plant a few of the larger plants in the back of the garden, and space the rest out in the front. This will allow you to fit a few more plants into the same space as before. It will also allow you to add more plants when you have the space in your garden. 

What to do if you can’t fit more into your garden

If you find that you don’t have enough space to fit more plants into your garden, then the best thing to do is to look for an alternate space. Do you have an empty lot nearby that you might be able to rent? Or, are there any other nearby parks or other open spaces that you can use? You may be able to find a larger space that is nearby that you can use. 


Spacing your plants correctly is important for many reasons. While it is possible to get by with spacing your plants incorrectly, it is not possible to get by with spacing them correctly. Spacing your plants correctly will help your plants grow healthier, have better yields, and spread out more evenly in the garden. The most important thing to remember when spacing plants correctly is to leave them enough space to grow. This will allow them to grow to their full potential, be healthy, and be more productive. So, if you start spacing your plants properly this year, you will find that it will be much easier to garden with fewer issues, have better yields, and spend more time enjoying your plants in the garden.

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