What is swathe planting? Experts spill the dirt on the gardening trend and how to make it work in small spaces

Our gardening pros delve deep: what is swathe planting and can it work in a small backyard?

Wild flowers in a swathe planting system with a garden hose in the middle of the grounds
(Image credit: Getty Images/scottiebumich)

The question isn't, "What is swathe planting?" It's, "Why aren't you swathe planting in your garden?"

This green thumbed trend — which sees a large set of plants grouped together for dramatic effect — is set to take hold in 2024. Our gardening pros reveal how to make it work if your outdoor space is minimal, so you can enjoy gorgeous grounds, too. 

Experts weigh in on turning this practice into a beautiful small garden idea. Shovels and clippers at the ready!

What is swathe planting? A look inside the gardening trend

What is swathe planting, exactly? Keen gardeners are creating this bold look by grouping the same flowers together in a sizeable strip. Not only is it stunning to look at, but for those of you who live on #GardenTok, swathe planting primes your outdoor space for a cohesive, picture-perfect aesthetic.

It's one of those backyard ideas that works beautifully when space is generous, but the good news is it can still work well in a small area, provided you're willing to put in the work and make careful plant selections/

You'll want to ensure the setup isn't too cramped if you're working in tight quarters, as this can affect a plant's health. Additionally, if the ground in your yard is uneven, consider container gardening to execute the look. 

Swathe planting in a small space

"In a small space, swathe planting can be achieved by focusing on a single variety or closely related varieties that thrive together, maximizing the visual impact without needing vast expanses," says Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal.

If you're thinking about giving the trend a try and still mapping out what to plant in April, Gene has a few suggestions to help pull everything together.

"Lavender and salvia offer not just vibrant colors but also attract pollinators and are drought-resistant, making them low-maintenance," he says. "Marigolds are great for adding bright splashes of color, are easy to grow, and can help deter pests, adding both beauty and function to your garden swathe."

What to shop

If you're ready to swathe, get started with Gene's recommendations of lavender, marigolds, and salvia.

He says, "These choices can create a dense, colorful display, bringing life and visual appeal to even the smallest garden spaces."

Gene Caballero
Gene Caballero

Gene Caballero is co-founder of Green Pal, a platform connecting customers to lawn care experts in their area throughout the United States. With such diverse areas to cover, Gene is well-versed in specific greenery needs for various environments. 

Looking for more ways to bring your outdoor space to life once the warm weather hits? Determine what gardening zone you're in before you start planting and allow these outdoor spring decor ideas to provide a bit of inspiration for your setup.

Danielle Valente
Content Editor

Pleasure to meet you! I'm Danielle, a content editor at Real Homes who loves scoping out interior trends. I've specialized in lifestyle writing and editing for 10 years with a focus on events, food, and books, among other areas. When I'm not working, I'm usually cooking, reading, or searching for a new project for my apartment.