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3 Critical Stages in the Growth of Your Gardens

What can i expect once my contractor finishes installing our gardens?

The day your landscape is finished, the plantings will look more like a dot matrix than a garden. Fear not! Rapid growth is just around the corner.

1-year Milestone

At the first spring/summer season at or near the 1-year mark, you will see a rapid advancement in the growth of your herbaceous plants. As the soil warms, you may easily see them double in size! This is another exciting time for most of our clients.

Now if your garden was planted during the winter months, you may see this rapid growth in just a few months as spring hits with warmer weather and longer days.

The shrubs will likely push off new growth but will not grow as rapidly as the herbaceous plants.

The trees will likely have a slower growth rate as well. New growth but not as rapid of a change in size as the herbaceous plant material.

The primary work in the gardens during the first year is weeding and closely managing the irrigation system to find the best timing for your site conditions.


3-year Milestone

As you pass through the third year of growth, many of the perennial plants will likely have reached their mature size, or close to it. The space between them has mostly filled in and you are starting to see the vision we presented you in early drawings start to materialize in real time.

The need for weeding is dramatically reduced due to the infilling of the plant material, the irrigation schedule has been finely honed and is now able to be watered more infrequently due to the maturing root systems.

The shrubs and trees and now taking shape. While not holding as strong a place in the design as they soon will, they no longer look freshly Planted.

Fruit trees are 2X to 3X their planted size and are producing enough fruit to create excitement and harvest time.

Your uplights on trees are likely starting to provide more interest as well.

Summer deadheading has increased and fall pruning has now become a larger, and permanent annual event as the herbaceous perennials will need to be cut back annually to ensure new vigorous growth for the following year. Fruit trees will require heavy pruning as well. Shrubs and other trees will need minimal pruning for shaping only.


5-year Milestone

The fifth year sees the remaining herbaceous perennials reach maturity and the shrubs are now starting to really anchor the space as intended. Flowering trees and shrubs now put on more of a show while hinting at what the future holds as they grow into their positions framing the landscape.

Your fruit trees are not only producing more fruit than you can eat, but also putting on a fabulous spring flower display.

The uplights on the trees are now creating an exciting nightscape and reflecting interesting light and shadows onto the surrounding hardscapes and gardens.

All of the third-year pruning and dead-heading activities are now a permanent part of the management routine.


Rick Taylor

Principal, Elder Creek Design Studios



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