When designing a landscape planting plan, I first think about the sizes and shapes of plants I want to use before picking which specific plant goes where. One of the options I often consider is the use of columnar plants. A columnar plant is characterized by its upright shape–they will be taller than they are wide. Columnar shaped plants are a great way to add color and beauty to your landscape. Their natural slenderness makes them appear tidy and well pruned, even if they may not have been pruned in a while. For this reason, in many instances, columnar plants can lend themselves to a formal design aesthetic. But their many uses make them a very versatile option when considering what plant materials to incorporate into your project. They have a unique shape that offers variety next to your wide spreading plants, and when placed in the right spot will highlight the architecture of your house. Plant them on either side of a doorway or walkway to help draw the eye and interest of the viewer. Columnar plants truly are like adding an exclamation point to your garden.
Columnar plants come in many colors and sizes, both evergreen and deciduous. From the burgundy colors of a barberry to the white blooms of a crabapple, many of the garden plants you already know and love have columnar options. There are very large options such as ‘Crimson Spire’ oak which can reach upwards of 40’ tall, and there are shorter options such as ‘Newport Blue’ boxwood which only reach 6’ tall. One of the most important uses for me as a landscape designer is the ability to add vertical interest in a space with little horizontal space. Their narrow and upright growth habits allow them to be planted in tight spaces. It is the perfect way to add height in an area where the spread of other plantings would encroach on the house or other features. Columnar evergreens can be used as a way to block sight lines and create privacy in spaces where wider evergreens are not an option.
When thinking about your next landscape project, remember to start by thinking of the size and shapes of the plants you would like to use first. Because of their versatility, a columnar shaped plant may be the perfect fit for your project. If you’re feeling in over your head, come talk to the employees of Superior Garden Center or hire one of our qualified designers from the Rost Inc. design team to get help. Visit our plant finder to learn more about the variety of columnar plants sold at Superior Garden Center.