Tree Spacing

When I go to Lowes nearly every tree has a tag (unless it fell off) that tells me how far I should space the tree. I suppose this is valuable information so you know how much room your tree needs in order to establish a good root system. I have many questions though about this spacing.

Before buying a tree I also go online to do some research I end up finding out that not everyone has the same idea of how much spacing a particular tree needs, nor the size it can eventually get. Living in the desert southwest I know that many trees will not reach their extreme maximum as they would in a milder climate, however the tree tag can give me some sort of idea of what to expect.

My first question about tree spacing is, why do we have to follow all these rules when trees in nature just grow without following restrictions?

This is an important question for me. I want a lush backyard. I want areas where trees are close together but further apart in others. I want my garden to have a natural and only slightly constructed feel simultaneously. Plus I would like a variety of trees to look at so I can see different sized foliage in a variety of colors. Tree spacing sort of cramps my ideas up.

Another question I have is whether or not trees need to have all that space for a root system? I came to this question because of container gardening. Many people throughout the ages have grown fantastic tree specimens in containers. (I am also experimenting with trees in containers to help add more trees into the yard.) If you can grow a good size tree in a container then why do they have to have so much room in the ground? Nature doesn’t seem to need it either judging by how closely spaced trees can be.

So my final question is, what will happen if I push things a little? We will find out. I am planting what I want where I want, and although there is a little nagging voice of fear in my mind, I will ignore it for now and see how things fall into place.

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