How to space trees

How Close Can I Plant Trees to Each Other?

As an avid tree lover, you may want to plant majestic trees in your yard. But have you ever wondered how close to plant trees to each other or how much elbow room you should give your trees so they can achieve optimal growth? Moreover, if there are utility lines or walls sharing the same space as your trees, it may be challenging for you to successfully achieve your landscape plan.

There are some important things you need to consider. So the experts at Mr. Tree have put together this handy guide to help you understand how close to plant trees to each other.

How Close to Plant Trees to Each Other: What Are the Best Practices?

Most landscaping professionals recommend that you leave at least 10 feet between small trees and at least 30 to 50 feet between large trees. Medium-sized trees can fare well with a distance of 20 feet between them.

It’s a common misconception that trees planted close to each other face fierce competition since the resources are limited. However, if you want your trees to provide you with more usable shade, planting them close to each other is exactly what you need to do. As the trees compete for adequate sunlight, they end up growing toward each other, and they create enough shade by closing the gap. Moreover, arborists also believe that the roots of trees planted close to each other have a strong network that helps them communicate and look after themselves.

However, there is a significant downside to following this rule. If planted too close to each other, a majority of those trees might end up growing one-sided. And if one of the trees dies, the others may become more vulnerable to damage due to the gap now between them. Moreover, it can also be expensive to plant trees very close.

On the other hand, if you plant the trees too far from each other, it may take a long time for those trees to provide you with sufficient shade. You may also notice low, drooping branches and larger wounds on such branches. Such trees also tend to develop a canopy close to the ground, so you need to schedule pruning sessions more frequently. The upside is that planting them far apart is easier on your pocket.

How Do You Decide How Much Room You Should Leave?


The amount of space a tree needs depends on what type of tree you are planting. Trees that grow aggressively, if planted too close to other trees or vegetation, could take over the other plants’ needed space. And far beyond crowding them out, aggressive trees will absorb the majority of the nutrients, sunlight, and water in the area, starving out the other trees and plants nearby.

When planting trees with shallower root systems and less aggressive growth, however, you can be a little more lenient about these distances.

Here’s what our arborists recommend:

  • If you are planting small trees, such as flowering dogwoods, magnolia, or smaller conifers, leave a gap of 10 feet between trees.
  • If you are planting medium-sized trees, such as fruit trees, birch trees, or larger Japanese maples, allow 20 feet distance between trees.
  • If you are planting large trees, such as sugar maples, oaks, ginkgo, or flowering pears, leave at least 30 to 50 feet distance.
  • For very large, aggressive trees, such as poplars, silver maples, or willows, leave a distance of 100 feet.


Next, you need to think about the quantity of light your trees will receive. Remember that while trees packed too closely will provide you with shade, they will also block the sunlight from reaching the lower leaves or smaller trees. If your tree is already weak or is suffering from infection, lower levels of sunlight may add to agony and cause strange growth patterns. You may also notice lower levels of flower or fruit production.

Figuring out the correct spacing between trees is even more important when you’re planting fruit trees. If you plant them too far apart, pollination will be a challenge. Plant them too close, and the quality of the fruit may be impacted due to lower levels of sunlight. Usually, apple trees need at least 30 to 35 feet distance between them. For citrus trees, leave at least 8 feet, and for plum trees, consider 15 to 20 feet.

Curb Appeal

You also need to consider aesthetics when deciding how far apart you should plant the trees. Even though closely planted trees may help you re-create a forest-like experience right in your yard, it may not look visually appealing.

Ready to Create a Picturesque Yard?

Keep in mind that this is merely guidance to give you an idea of how close to plant trees to each other. You should reach out to a landscaping professional that will be able to advise you better after looking at your yard and its surroundings and considering the type of trees you wish to plant. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to landscaping because every tree is just as unique as you are.

Planting trees may not sound like a challenge, but figuring out the correct spacing between two trees can help ensure that your trees get the best life. If you have any doubts or questions, it’s always worth it to reach out to the experts at Mr. Tree. We are here to provide you with all the advice you need regarding the type of trees you should consider planting in your yard and how much space you should leave between them.

Our expertise lies in creating a landscape that reflects your tastes and preferences and the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. So don’t rely on your guesswork to work out the correct spacing—give us a call, and we’ll help you create the yard of your dreams.

Spacing Trees Correctly | Learn How to Space Trees & Why It Matters

A drive around any older neighborhood will quickly show you giant trees right up against houses, blocking windows, damaging foundations and drains, and making rooms dark and gloomy. Bad decisions about planting distances are easy to find, so why are they made?

The biggest single reason for poor tree placement is the way we see plants as cute and small, and our wish to surround our homes with green. But the consequences, in removal costs, damage, insurance claims, and in the forced cutting down of heritage trees, are serious. Trees take time to grow, and many can and do grow large, so when planting a tree it really is worthwhile to take some time, and use a measure tape, when choosing that planting spot. Don’t get caught out 20 years from now by a hasty choice of tree species, or planting spot.

Remember: Roots Spread Wide

There is a common idea that the roots of trees extend to the ‘drip line’, the place where the foliage ends. The image of the root-system being an upside-down version of the branches is very wrong, because for almost all trees the roots extend 1.5 to 3 times the height of the tree. A sixty-foot tree will therefore have some roots over 150 feet from the trunk, but those outermost roots are small feeding roots – usually not the large structural roots that cause damage.

The depth of roots, on the other hand, is much less than the height, although this is affected by the soil. Deep, sandy soil allows roots to penetrate downwards 10 or 20 feet, but many soils have hard clay or rock just a few feet down, and that effectively prevents deeper rooting – as is seen when a tree blows over in a storm.

Consider What Tree It Is

How far the roots will spread, and how badly they might affect drains and foundations, depends not just on the ultimate height of the tree, but on what kind of tree it is. The most well-known of these aggressive trees is the Weeping Willow, but all willows that grow large can be a problem. Other trees with similar habits include cottonwood, aspen and any other poplar trees, silver maple, Norway maple, black locust and American elm. These trees should be planted 100 feet from any buildings, drain pipes, sewers or swimming pools. Don’t forget to consider your neighbors home and pipes too.

On the other hand, most conifer trees – like spruce, Thuja and pine – have more fibrous, shallow root systems that rarely cause problems. That is why they are popular choices for lawn specimens, hedges and screens. But just because they don’t create damage doesn’t mean they won’t get too big for your garden, and evergreens are especially bad for blocking light.

Think About the Hidden Future Costs

Planting trees too close to a building – your own or your neighbors, or a property line, can end up costing you plenty of money. So can choosing a tree that is too large for your property. The removal of large trees, especially in confined spaces, is expensive. So is ripping out sewer lines and replacing them. If your tree invades your neighbor’s lines, or damage their foundations, you will be left facing the bill for its repair. Tree experts can pin-point, through root examination, exactly which tree is doing the damage, and you may not like what they find. Neighbors can force you to remove a tree that is, or could, be damaging – at your expense.

Tree trimming to remove dangerous over-hanging branches is expensive too and may need to be done regularly. Many people plant large trees, thinking they can leave any problems to future owners, but trees that are, or could become, dangerous problems will reduce the re-sale value, so you do end up paying for your own mistakes.

How Much Room Should I Allow?

With all these considerations, when you are looking for trees to plant, look at the final sizes listed for them and then get out into the garden with a measure, to see how much room you really have, considering all the things we have talked about here. Look at the places you were thinking of planting and consider the following distances.

To protect foundations, sewers and drains, allow the following spacings:

Small trees, such as flowering dogwoods, magnolia, or smaller conifers – allow 10 feet.

Medium-sized trees, such as fruit trees, birch trees, or larger Japanese maple – allow 20 feet

Large-trees, like sugar maple, oaks, Gingko, or flowering pear – allow 30 to 50 feet

Large, aggressive trees like poplars, silver maple or willows – allow 100 feet

Distance From Buildings and Other Trees

There are other factors worth considering when planting near your home, besides protecting foundations. First there is visual scale. A typical two-story home, with a pitched roof is 20 to 25 feet tall. Many trees, evergreen or deciduous, will grow 60 to 80 feet tall, and right alongside your home that is going to look pretty silly. Besides that, overhanging branches can break, causing roof damage, or if the whole tree comes down in a storm it will demolish most of your home. Far better to plant trees that grow no more than 40 feet tall within a 20 feet radius around your home. Keep those larger trees further away, where you can see and admire their beauty, without any risk.

Consider too the width of the tree. As a rule of thumb, if you half the width listed for a mature tree, that should be the minimum distance away from the house – even then the branches will in time touch the windows. So a better rule would be two-thirds of the listed width. That is also a good rule for spacing trees apart, if you want them to retain their individual identity. Trees planted close together make a nice forest, but that may not be the garden style you had in mind!

Think About Light

If you are planting a larger tree, where will the shadow fall? Roughly speaking, a tree will cast a shadow equal to its height by mid-afternoon in mid-summer. That shadow will be to the south-west of the tree. In winter the shadow will be much longer, which is why large evergreens are not good choices near a house. On the south side of your home, a deciduous tree may cast welcome, cooling shade in summer, and let warming sunshine through in winter – a much better choice.

Don’t Be Put Off Planting Trees

All of this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plant trees – with all the joy and beauty that brings. It does mean you should choose wisely. Today we have many smaller versions of full-size trees available, plus all the trees that stay small naturally. There are many, many good choices available, depending on your circumstances, so plant away – just give some thought before you do it. If you really do want a specimen of a giant redwood in your courtyard garden, there is always bonsai!

How to plant trees in the garden

If you plant trees too close to each other or try to "make friends" incompatible crops, the garden will not bring a decent harvest. Read our article on how to avoid this.

Let's talk about what factors to consider when arranging trees in a garden.

What plants can be planted nearby

This is perhaps one of the most important things to find out before planting seedlings. The compatibility of plants is called allelopathy. It is both negative and positive.

The best compatibility of fruit trees will be achieved if plants of the same species are planted side by side: apple trees with apple trees, pears with pears, cherries with cherries. But such a garden of the same type will look rather boring. And therefore, in our gardens, trees of different types grow, which are important to plant correctly. For example, a pear will feel great next to an apple tree and red mountain ash, while a cherry or peach will give her a lot of inconvenience.

In the case of positive allelopathy, the trees in the garden can not only exist safely in the neighborhood, but also be mutually beneficial. Therefore, before planning plantings in the garden, it is recommended to check the compatibility table of different crops.

Worst of all with the "neighbors" in the garden get along walnut. This tree is considered toxic and can inhibit almost all fruit crops. Therefore, if you are going to start such a plant in the garden, find a place for it on the outskirts of the site, where it will not bother anyone.

How to make a tree planting plan

Drawing up a plan will depend on many factors - primarily on its size, location and degree of illumination.

Garden site selection

Most trees prefer to grow in full sun. Therefore, the garden should be located so that light-loving crops (apricot, pear, peach, plum, cherry, apple tree) are located on the south or south-west side of the site. Here they will grow and bear fruit best.

If the area allotted for planting trees in your area is small, plants should be placed in steps: low - on the south side, tall - closer to the north.

Garden styles

When planning a garden, the first thing to do is to decide how the trees will be planted. There are two main garden styles:

  • regular (geometric),
  • landscape (natural).

When planning a regular garden, crops should be arranged so that they organize symmetrical shapes (squares or rectangles). It is advisable to "arrange" the trees in a row so that straight paths can be laid between them. It is permissible to place plants on the site and in a checkerboard pattern - so they will receive more sunlight.

If the site is on a hill, then the rows of trees should be placed across the slope.

Landscape style looks more natural - trees in nature grow chaotically. That is, you can place the crops in any way you want (taking into account the compatibility of plants and other factors that affect their successful growth). This method of planting fruit crops is suitable for uneven areas, with depressions and mounds, since such "shortcomings" of the relief will create the illusion of a natural composition.

Selection of species and varieties of fruit trees

After you decide on the location of the trees and the planting scheme, it is worth considering how many and which plants should be planted. To do this, it is best to draw a rough site plan with all buildings and large objects. The selection of species and varieties of horticultural crops should be carried out with the condition that they can pollinate each other.

For example, if you are planting apple trees, make sure that more than half of the seedlings are winter varieties. Their fruits will subsequently be stored until spring or even early summer.

The maturity of the crop is also an important criterion. It is advisable to plant varieties with different ripening dates - this will extend the harvest time.

Distance between trees

In order for crops to have enough space for harmonious development, they must be planted at a certain distance from each other, as well as from buildings. So, cherries and plums should not be located closer than 3 m from the boundaries of the site (as well as from fences and buildings). It is advisable to plant apple and pear trees even further away from them.

The distance between the rows of trees grafted on tall rootstocks should be on average about 5-6 m. In the rows between crops, a gap of 4-5 m should be left. If you plant fruit crops closer, they will begin to stretch ahead of time (they will stretch towards the sun), their productivity will decrease, and the quality of the crop will deteriorate.

If you plan to plant trees with a small crown, the distance between them can be reduced by 0.5-1 m. With mixed placement of fruit trees and berry bushes, the distance between crops in rows should be increased by 1-2 m, and between rows - by 1-1.5 m.


Row spacing (m)

Distance between plants in a row (m)







Cherry tall



Low cherry


2. 5-3

Pear on vigorous rootstock



Pear on a stunted rootstock



Sea buckthorn









Tall plum



Plum stunted


2. 5-3

Apple tree on vigorous rootstock



Apple tree on a low-growing rootstock



When to plant trees: in autumn or spring

Trees are usually only planted or replanted when they are at rest: in spring or autumn. In summer, such a procedure is unsafe, because the plants are in the midst of the growing season. And if you disturb a young tree at this time, then after the stress it has suffered, it runs the risk of getting sick or even dying. How to determine in which season it is right to plant trees? The choice depends on the climate zone.


Time of planting (replanting) trees

Southern regions

Trees are planted in autumn. Seedlings planted in the spring run the risk of not having time to take root before the onset of hot weather. Therefore, they can get bark burns or die from lack of moisture in the soil

Central regions

Trees can be planted in both spring and autumn. Regardless of the time of planting, the result will be approximately the same: in a temperate climate, seedlings of fruit crops will take root safely

Northern regions

Trees are planted in spring. Not too hot spring and summer will allow the plants to adapt and timely leave for winter rest. Fruit crops planted in autumn, on the contrary, will not be able to acclimatize in time and will die with the onset of the first frosts

How many trees to plant in the garden

Usually each gardener decides individually, based on the size of the plot and his needs. But on average, in order to provide fruits for a family of 3-4 people, it is recommended to plant:

  • 3 winter apple trees,
  • 2 autumn apple trees,
  • 2 summer apple trees,
  • 2 pears,
  • 4 cherries,
  • 4 plums (or 2 plums and 2 cherry plums).

Now that the plan for planting trees in the garden has been drawn up taking into account all the nuances, it's time to start laying the orchard.

6 secrets to growing trees in containers (great for 2-3 acres!)

1 Choose slow growing and dwarf trees

An important condition for container growing trees is to make replanting and pruning as infrequent as possible. Suitable include not only dwarf varieties, but also any slow-growing growth of medium-sized trees. They will slow down their growth when their roots hit the walls of the container, and begin to grow a denser and denser crown. Suitable, for example, dwarf Albert spruce, dwarf varieties of Japanese maple, holly holly.

Instagram: @petalosgardendesign

Instagram: @walkingwomyn

Instagram: @caryrosetta4

  • Summer cottage

    Planting trees in autumn: all the subtleties, rules and instructions for the gardener

2 Boldly grow fruit trees

There is an opinion that container gardening is only a decorative technique. But in this way you can also get a harvest. To do this, plant dwarf varieties of plums, apples and pears. And if you are ready to carry out warming for the winter - dwarf apricot and peach trees. All of them will need nutrient soil, plenty of compost, periodic drainage, abundant watering and light partial shade. Use mulch to slow the evaporation of water from the pot. And do not forget to cut the fruits in time so that the thin branches do not break under their weight. Sometimes this has to be done even before the final ripening, so as not to harm the tree.

Instagram: @distinctivespaces

Instagram: @suzi_spoto

Instagram: @gardening_like_a_gray

  • Landscape

    How to plant a lot in a small area: 7 tips for a gardener

3 Select soil for each plant

Make a list of the trees you will plant and select soil separately for each. Focus on composition and acidity. For example, dwarf spruce needs soil with a pH of 5.3-5.7. And the bay tree - with a pH of 6.5-7.5. You can, of course, purchase the usual nutrient soil of medium acidity and adjust its composition with various preparations. But ready-made soil will significantly save time, and you will not be mistaken with the dosage of funds.

Instagram: @theinspiredfrog

Instagram: @zozotherese

Instagram: @suturae_et_folia

4 Choose a main container and planters of different sizes

Trees are usually planted in two containers. The first is a pot, often plastic, into which soil is poured and a tree is planted. Usually it is not more than 50 cm in diameter. The second is decorative, for example, wooden or ceramic. Many pick them up so that they match in size and are inserted into each other without a gap. But in fact, such a gap will be beneficial. Due to the air layer, the soil will heat up more slowly in the heat and cool down in the cold. And in this free space, excess water will go away during irrigation and gradually soak into the soil, preventing it from drying out.

Instagram: @margywargi

Instagram: @lplazajohnson

  • Summer cottage

    7 vegetables and legumes that are easy to grow in containers (if there is no space for beds)

5 Prefer square containers

This is important for trees with a long and developed root system. In rounded containers, their roots twist and function less well. At the same time, a square container can be placed in a larger, rounded decorative planter if this is important for garden design.

Instagram: @tabijgee_gardens

Instagram: @tabijgee_gardens

6 Complete the plot with a small greenhouse or conservatory

Many compact trees that are suitable for container planting do not tolerate hard frosts. For example, the laurel tree - it rarely tolerates a temperature drop below -10 ° C. So that it and other heat-loving plantings in containers do not die in the very first winter, put a greenhouse on the site. In autumn, it will be possible to remove those miniature trees that cannot be brought into a warm house, as they need a dormant period. At the same time, the greenhouse can be compact - it is permissible to place trees in pots close enough to each other.

Learn more