“Mass planting establishes consistency, consistency develops theme and theme delivers impact.” It’s the #1 answer on www.ask.com.
This simple statement made by landscape designer John Algozzini reflects one of the principles of good design in nature and also good design in the residential landscape.
The beech/maple forests of southern Illinois are magnificent because of their diversity and yet their magnificence is also defined by the dominance of beech and maple. The same statement could be applied to our fallow fields that provide the same diversity yet are dominated by goldenrod blooming in the summer.
Mass planting doesn’t mean a lack of diversity. It simply means an abundance of repetition of those plants that are utilized. Large volumes of color at specific times will almost certainly be more impressive in a landscape than a little of this and a little of that over an extended period of time.
A long list of assorted perennials and woody plants in small quantities on a landscape design may look impressive but a shorter list of larger quantities will provide substantially greater impact. A kitchen with four different counter tops and six different cabinet styles would be a decorating and design nightmare. The differences would work against each other and not together. The same applies outside of the home.
A mature cottage garden might be the notable exception to the ‘mass planting’ principle, but the maintenance involved with a cottage garden is beyond the capability of most homeowners in terms of time or money.
Mass planting in landscape design also eliminates confusion with maintenance chores each spring and simplifies the recognition of what is a plant and what is a weed for both the homeowner and perhaps the landscape contractor who is maintaining the garden.
Too much variety at a residence creates confusion and not continuity. Mass planting and repetitive planting provides ‘happy congestion’. There is a distinct and noticeable difference in the two approaches.