If you want to not only have a beautiful landscape but also a functional one, planning is essential. As a landscaping company that performs both landscape maintenance and landscape design and installation, we see properties that are a both a blessing and a curse to property owners. In the best of circumstances, landscape designers and/or landscape contractors select the right plants for the right location and property owners can enjoy and use areas with limited maintenance and frustration. However, in instances where someone did not plan carefully enough, plants like trees and shrubs can encroach on areas such as walkways, patios, and driveways. This can inhibit proper usage and create problems for maintenance and even cost property owners more of their hard-earned money.

There are many considerations when selecting plants that are appropriate for your property. This is especially true when planting those trees or shrubs near paved surfaces. Before you make a final decision, be sure to heed these 4 considerations for the plants to be installed:

1. Width: This is probably the most neglected of all considerations. People have a hard time understanding how wide plants will grow to in time. Before you know it, your 1 metre walkway is now half a metre because the bordering shrubs have grown over them. This leaves you to hack them back to ugly twigs each year or to spend money tearing them out and replacing them. To be able to take advantage of the full width of driveways, walkways, and patios, be sure to understand how wide plants will grow and plant them generously away. If a shrub says it will grow 0.8m-1m wide, it should be at least half of that distance away. Don’t be deceived by those cute, little plants in pots at the nursery. They’re going to grow.

2. Height: Unless you are trying to completely hide a paved area, be sure to be mindful of how tall plants will get to be. We’ve seen many instances where beautiful porches and architectural elements of structures are hidden because plants are too tall. Whenever possible, try to be conservative with your planning. If a shrub will get to be 3 metres tall, don’t try planting it under your 1 metre window sill. Otherwise, you’ll be hacking them or replacing them. Likewise, be mindful of branch height of trees. If you need to have a tree near a walkway, driveway, or patio, understand how low those branches may get. Otherwise, it may make paved areas less usable.

3. Touch: Some plants look great but aren’t for close proximity to areas people will be sitting or walking, or where cars may be parking. Plants with thorns or rigid branches need to be planted far enough away from paved surfaces. Otherwise there will be scratched legs and arms, or patios, walkways, and driveways won’t be used to their full capacity.

4. Mess: One plant may not present any problems at one spot on your property, and a big nuisance somewhere else. When selecting trees and shrubs for your landscaping plan, be sure to know what those plants may be dropping at certain periods of the year. While most plants have some sort of debris, there may be a better choice. Try to avoid plants that may drop fruit and stain paved surfaces or outdoor furniture, or at least plant them far enough away that they pose minimal potential.

If you need help maintaining plants near your paved surfaces or are ready to install new ones, we would love to talk with you about how we could help.