Once the zones of mass and space have been identified, a list of potential plant community types that match the desired characteristics of those various zones can be generated. The designation of potential community-like groupings of plants to fulfil the design criteria for different zones must, of course, also be aligned with the environmental characteristics of each zone, for example soil, moisture, slope steepness and orientation.
As noted earlier, the changes associated with site development may actually create new microenvironments, potentially increasing the number or range of community-like plantings that may be incorporated in the design.
In the southeastern US, the most likely plant community type to designate for ‘mass’ areas within a mass/space plan is a forest type (or types) appropriate to the soil-moisture – topography complex on the site. Such plantings may grade through transitional shrub zones into the spaces in the plan. Spaces will tend to be predominantly herbaceous plant zones, for example meadow plantings of various compositions, aquatic plantings, or, in some cases, lawns, pathways or paved areas. Those areas targeted for forest-like plantings can be planted to trees immediately, or can be permitted to evolve through stages of secondary succession, with the primary management activity being the removal or suppression of invasive exotic species. Those areas designated as herb-dominated meadows will require more management to suppress not only unwanted exotic species, but also woody species that will ‘want’ to occupy the space.