Planting For The Future

The other day I was driving around town and came across a newly-constructed house for sale.  The yard had been landscaped and- as is often the case with new homes- it was landscaped to look good long enough to sell, with no thought about the long term viability of the design.

Case in point- this magnolia* has been planted about 8 feet away from the house.  It's currently about 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide and it looks okay- for now.  But what the buyer may not know- and the seller either doesn't know or doesn't care about- is that this tree can grow 60 feet tall and 40 feet wide!  In a few years the branches will be growing into the side of the house, the gutters will be clogged with leaves, and the roots will grow into the foundation and cause leaks in the basement.

As a bonus, everything planted around it will die from either a) lack of sun, b) lack of water when the fully-grown tree hogs it all, or c) being buried under a thick pile of leaves.  In short, everything here will eventually have to go (at the homeowner's expense) because whoever designed this landscape was only thinking about the now and not the future.

I plan on doing some blog posts/videos in the future with tips about good landscape design, but for now I thought it would be helpful to share this photo and raise awareness of one of the most common mistakes people make in their landscape.  Before you plant something, do your homework and make sure the plant will still work in that spot when it's fully grown.  And if you're looking to buy a home, pay attention to the yard and make sure there's not something there that will cause you headaches in the future.

*NOTE: There are lots of varieties of magnolia out there, and this looks like a Southern Magnolia to me.  In all fairness though, there is a dwarf variety of Southern Magnolia called "Little Gem" which grows 15-20 feet tall and about 10 feet wide.  If that's the tree in the picture above, then it will actually fit that spot well.  Potential buyers should ask exactly which variety of magnolia it is- it's an important distinction with very different ramifications depending on the answer.