The Spacing Between Trees

By Nancy Penrose

Planting new trees is a great way to add beauty and value to your property, but it’s important to consider the proper spacing to ensure their health and growth. The distance between new trees when planting depends on several factors, including the species of tree, the intended use (e.g. for shade, ornamental, or privacy), and the size at maturity.

One of the most important factors to consider when planting new trees is their ultimate size and shape at maturity. If you are planting trees for shade or privacy, you’ll want to consider the mature height and spread of the tree species to ensure that they provide adequate coverage. On the other hand, if you are planting ornamental trees, you may want to consider their aesthetic appeal and choose species with attractive shapes and growth habits.

Another factor to consider is the availability of space. If you have a large property, you may have more flexibility in planting distances. However, if you have a smaller property, you may need to adjust your planting distances accordingly to accommodate the available space. In smaller landscapes, it’s important to choose smaller tree species or those with more compact growth habits to ensure that they do not become overcrowded.

In addition to the size and shape of the trees, it’s also important to consider the type of soil they will be growing in and the amount of sunlight or shade in the planting area. Some tree species have extensive root systems that need plenty of room to spread, while others have more shallow roots that can tolerate close planting. Soil type and moisture levels can also play a role in determining the appropriate planting distance.  Some tree species can handle shade or sun better than others as well.

When it comes to determining the proper planting distance, there are some general guidelines that can be followed. For most deciduous trees, it is recommended to plant them at least 10-15 feet apart. Coniferous trees, on the other hand, can often be planted closer together, as they typically have more compact growth habits. For large shade or ornamental trees, it is recommended to plant them at least 20-30 feet apart.  When planting evergreens for privacy, an additional consideration is the balance of “instant” privacy versus waiting for the trees to fill in overtime.  Budget plays a large role in this as well.

It’s important to keep in mind that these guidelines are just that – guidelines. Every tree species is unique, and the ideal planting distance will depend on a variety of factors, including the intended use of the trees, the size and shape of the tree at maturity, and the availability of space. If you’re unsure about the proper planting distance for a specific tree species, it may be helpful to consult with a local arborist or landscaper.

In conclusion, planting new trees is a great way to enhance your property, but it’s important to consider the proper spacing to ensure their health and growth. By taking into account the size and shape of the tree at maturity, the type of soil, and the availability of space, you can choose the appropriate planting distance and create a beautiful and sustainable landscape.

Nancy Penrose is the owner of Big Trees Inc., located in Snohomish, WA in the Seattle area. The company is one of the largest tree nurseries in the Seattle area with over 120,000 trees available in over 300 varieties. They not only deliver young trees, but also mature trees in a wide range of sizes. Some types of trees available include spring flowering, deciduous, evergreen, and privacy trees. The company also does tree transplanting including large trees. Their blog can be seen at or They can be reached at 360-563-2700.

Big Trees Inc.
10928 Springhetti Rd
Snohomish, WA 98296