Large garden spaces can be a little daunting to deal with. Never fear − mass planting offers many benefits and achieves big goals. Here are some simple tips and great plants to make the task, from designing to planting, easier and more fun. Here we go!

Mass plantings along a pathway by Tonkadale Greenhouse

Visual impact – Planting plants in large quantities is impactful. Chose colors or textures that stand out from a distance as opposed to having to be up close to see each plant’s characteristics. Planting large quantities of a particular variety also defeats one-of-each-itis, or the havoc created when there is just one of each plant in a large garden, causing a jumble of colors and textures. If you have a large variety of plants already, consider grouping them together by color or texture to make the garden more coherent and provide impact.

Sun and shade plants for mass plantingsCreate flow – When planted in large clumps, plants can create the effect of flow and draw an observer through a large garden space. A single plant variety can do this by being planted all the way through a garden along one or both sides of a path way. Another option is to plant clumps of a variety in a staggered pattern between other plants to draw the eye across and through. Imagine scanning a landscape or walking along a path and being invited to continue by clumps of black-eyed Susans or Russian sage.

Low maintenance is key – Some plants are more difficult to maintain than others. Plants such as Nepeta (cat mint), ornamental grasses, and yarrow can literally be mowed down in the fall. Leave the plant litter to act as a natural mulch and do the clean up the following spring. Such plants will come back without issue. Other easy maintenance plants for this type of garden style include coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, and hosta.

Cover ground – Plant a mass of ground covers on the edge of a large planting or between steppers for a living mulch. Creeping thyme is foot friendly, smells amazing, and is particularly beautiful when in bloom. It creating a colorful, dense carpet between stepping stones, along paths, and around taller plants. Ground covers are excellent additions to large gardens and mass plantings because they are much easier to maintain that mulch.

Great plants for big gardens and mass plantings

Color plans for mass plantings

  • Black-eyed Susans
  • Coneflowers
  • Bee balm
  • Russian sage
  • Yarrow
  • Nepeta
  • Liatris
  • Ferns
  • Hosta
  • Hydrangeas
  • Sedum, especially large varieties such as Sum and Substance or Empress Wu
  • Most importantly, keep large plantings simple by only choosing a few varieties of plants. Three to five is a good start.

Remember to plan and plant for long bloom time. Some plants are stunning in large groupings even though they don’t have a long bloom time, such as astilbe, but it’s still well worth it. In other cases, and whenever possible, think about an individual plant’s bloom time or about planning for season long color by mass planting perennials that have varying bloom times (early, mid, and late season).

Now you know a few basics to plant a large garden space successfully. Arboretums, large estate gardens, and prairie-style gardens are great places to find inspiration for colors and textures that stand out when planted in large groupings, too.

Mass planting with grasses