If you follow this blog, you hear us talk often about how great this or that plant looks “in mass” or “massed.” You might wonder just what we mean by that–what exactly is massing plants and why do we recommend this design option?
Massing uses broad bands of color to achieve spectacular results and is one of garden designers’ best secrets (and nature is the queen of massing!). By closely planting a large stand of one type of plant, you can achieve visual impact and landscape balance or proportion that are not so easy to come by if a garden is planted with a bit of this and a bit of that. Massing creates form, color and texture, and as a side benefit, massing plants reduces maintenance. Finally, when you consider that your yard is surrounded by objects with lots of size and height–your house and other building, mature trees, etc.–you’re going to need something pretty powerful with plenty of volume, height, scale to compete for attention.
So, how many of one plant constitutes “massing”? Experts will say that six of one plant is where you start; where you go from there is up to you. This technique works well for woody shrubs, grasses, groundcovers, sturdy perennials, and even annuals. You can even group 5 – 6 planted pots together and get the look.
Here are a few examples of what massing looks like (such as the eye-catching stand of flowering hydrangea above). If you have an area that you would like to be a focal point, but not a maintenance headache, consider bundling together large swathes of color, form and texture to create drama and excitement.