Updated: Jul 23
Arranging aloes in your garden… It’s one of those things that can pose a challenge.
This article illustrates four simple ways to arrange plants in a landscape for that beautiful layered look. Use these steps to create a more professional and natural looking garden at home.
Figure 1 – plant in groups of 2, 3, 5 or 7
1. One of the easiest ways to arrange plants in your garden is by grouping them.
This is also known as planting in drifts, but the term ‘drift’ is not often used in our neck of the woods.
In gardening, unless a particularly formal design is required, avoid planting an even number of any particular variety, simply because odd numbered groupings are more natural and pleasing to the eye. Usually when group planting, it’s recommended that you simply do so in odd numbers like 3, 5, or 7. If you are fascinated by the concept of the Fibonacci sequence (also called the Golden Ratio), said to be prevalent in the natural world (from shell structures to spiral galaxies), you can use 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 etc.
Whether we are attracted to the Fibonacci sequence by the magic of mathematics or by aesthetic considerations it produces is uncertain. In nature the sequence is common, probably reflecting the practicalities of life. Using such a grouping, creates the impact worthy of these wonderful aloes.
Our brains struggle to determine the individual number of objects that make up groups larger than 7, so, the even/odd design trick is no longer relevant beyond that point. When planting in large groups, the goal is to make it look like one large statement instead of separate plants. For aloes, plant them closer together than you typically would to get your plants to mesh together, without them actually touching. Why use odd numbers in your garden, you may be wondering? Even numbers are easier for our brains to process because they bring symmetry. When we plant in odd groups, it takes a bit longer for our brains to process, which can make a planting stand out.
2. Create a Focal Point in your planting area
A second way to arrange plants in your landscape is by creating a focal point. Pick a superstar plant that you love or even position a sculpture or other object as the focus of your garden bed. Another great way to create a focal point is by using a contrasting colour e.g. Aloe ‘Tangerine Tree’, a plant with bright green leaves and beautiful orange flowers, in the garden. Then arrange other colours e.g. Aloe ‘Ruby Blaze’ (in this case bright red), around the focal point to bring it all together.
Figure 2 – create a focal point and plant groups of plants around it.
3. Arrange your Plants in Rows
By arranging in straight rows, you’ll be creating more of a traditional or formal look for your garden. This is a nice and clean layout that many gardeners enjoy using. This option can also be used very successfully in a narrow driveway space or a small space next to a wall.
Figure 3 – plant in 3 rows to create depth
4. Weave Plants in and Out of Rows
Not sure if your style is formal or informal? – Weave Plants in and Out of the Rows for a more Casual Design
Figure 4 – Weave Plants in and Out of Rows
Create a foreground, middle-ground, and background with your plants, then weave the plants in and out of each row. Some medium-sized plants can be pulled forward to the front row and smaller plants can be pushed back into the middle row, looking from the sunny side.
You can also experiment by bringing larger plants from the back row to the middle row and putting middle row plants in the background. Think about this kind of like you would braid hair. We are mixing the 3 different rows up to tie the garden together. This will give your garden a more layered and casual look.
Courtesy of Sunbird Aloes