Tips for Planting Fruit Trees
Our little farmette consists of almost 4 acres of land. When we moved here, it had a big house, old fruit trees and berry bushes. We knew we wanted to expand the types of fruit trees and have a garden area. Planting trees can be tricky, we’re sharing our tips for planting fruit trees. Because we’ve had several die, please learn from our expensive mistakes.
We have 8 very over grown apple trees (we spent several years trimming them into the right shape), a pear tree that bear small fruit and 2 very large cherry trees that we spent 6 years trimming back to the proper size. There is a 3rd cherry tree that is taller than our garage and well, the birds love that tree.
We (and I mean my husband) did a lot of research on different fruit trees. We ordered 11 new trees from an online company along with 2 blueberry plants. We then went to a local store and bought an additional tree and 2 more blueberry plants. In total we have 17 trees and 10 blueberry plants.
Deciding What Trees to Buy
With the research my husband did, he really looked at the types of apples he wanted. Taking into account when the apples will be ready to pick. He also looked at the size of the trees. We went the dwarf or semi-dwarf or we will just trim the tree short varieties.
We selected dwarf trees as they will be smaller and easier to pick fruit from. You will need to decide your preference.
Taste of the fruit is another decision in your selection of fruit trees. Are you going to can the fruit, sell it at a farmers market? What do you want to make with the fruit, eating from the tree or into pies, jellies, etc.? Picking varieties that will pollinate each other is important for the tree to flower and bear fruit.
We went with trees that will not all bear fruit at the same time. Our apple trees will come on a various times, so we don’t get overwhelmed with fruit at once.
Laying Out Where to Plant What
You can see with the map below, we have the mapped out what tree had to go into what hole. My husband also noted when the tree is to bear fruit. To the far right he noted if they were dwarf or semi-dwarf trees if known.
Planning where you are planting what is helpful in many ways. Tags on the trees won’t last forever. You can see what you planted where and add addition trees in as you want.
Planting Fruit Trees
Once you have selected and purchased your trees, be sure to follow the directions on how to prepare the trees for planting. Do they need fertilizer, soaking, how deep to dig the holes?
The directions with our trees suggested that they soak in water for 6 hours (because they were bare root). We got buckets and put the trees in. Most of our trees were bare root when we got them.
Ensure you dig the holes the appropriate size (details should be on the tree tag or in the information that comes with the trees. Our holes were dug deep enough to keep the graft of the tree (the knotty thing at the bottom) above the hole.
I like to have the hole filled a little lower than the ground next to it so that when it rains, the water pools and helps water the tree.
You may want to consider putting shields around the bottoms of your trees. We put them on our trees so that the rabbits hopefully will leave the trees alone and not chew the bark. If you have deer, you may want to put up fencing to keep them from eating the tree branches. Other pests you’ll want to consider when the trees bear fruit are birds (especially for the berry trees). There is netting you can put over the trees to keep the birds from eating the fruits.
Be sure to water the trees regularly. This is especially important as they are fresh in the ground. If you plant during your rainy season, you may not need to water as much as mother nature will help you out.
Note: We also went and purchased a crab apple tree to add to our mix. Crab apple trees can help pollinate your apple trees and will fill in any gaps in pollination between varieties.
Planting fruit trees can be very rewarding. It requires time and patience. You can share the extras you have with family and friends. You could even sell at your local farmer’s market if you wanted too.
Buy soaker hoses, this will allow drops of water to go onto your trees and allow the trees to get established and grow. For us it’s easier to turn on a hose and let them soak all day (or night) than remember to carry buckets of water out to the plants.
Problems Faced Planting Trees
All the bare root trees we purchased died (even the year warranty replacement trees we received). We ended up replacing them with bigger trees we bought at local garden stores. Local bought trees are still living years later and bearing fruit.
We live in the country where there are herds (40+) of deer who eat the trees over the winter and rub on them.. We fenced in the trees with 4 foot fencing, we only lost 1 tree (that the deer had rubbed previously).
It’s open field where the trees are planted near, so they started to bend with the wind. Placing wood stakes and soft rope on the trees helps keep them steady. This is even important as the trees get larger. We have a granny smith about 2″ around that is stakes as it is getting top heavy. It has bore fruit (4-5 apples).
Tips for Planting Fruit Trees
- Ensure you have trees that work well together. Some trees require another like fruit tree to pollinate. And some trees are self pollinators. You won’t get fruit if your tree requires another and you only have one. Do research, you don’t usually want the same of two trees, you want to cross pollinate with another variety of the same tree (apple to apple, cherry to cherry). It’s similar to companion gardening to improve your yield in your garden.
- Fertilize the trees when you plant them and fertilize again in the Fall to help them grow over the winter.
- Water the trees regularly. I prefer to plant them when we are getting a lot of rain. It allows nature to help get them established. And when it’s not raining, we water them daily.
- Plant the trees early Spring, not the hottest part of the year. You want to give the trees the best chance at survival. Planting when it’s the dead heat of Summer, could lead to dead trees. You will need to water them daily, or on a drip water system (more when it gets hotter), to help the roots establish.
- Get the right size tree for your yard. Dwarf are the smallest. Semi-Dwarf grow a little bigger and then there are the regular size trees. Our preference is the semi-dwarf for the size the trees will grow. Select what works for your home.
- Keep a list of trees you have and when you planted them. Update this list yearly. It may change if you have to replace trees. This also allows you to track the growth of the trees.
- Look at the size of the trees you purchase. It usually takes 2 years from purchase, for them to bear fruit. Smaller trees may take longer.
- Larger (mature) trees will cost more. If you don’t have the means to transport or budget, you can find smaller trees to purchase and they will cost less.
- Ask questions at your local garden center/nursery. Do research on the varieties you want. Do they grow in your climate?
- Get different varieties that mature in different months. This increases the time that you have for fruit, and doesn’t have everything maturing at the same time for harvest.
- It takes a about 2 years to get fruit. The first year any buds you get, you may want to remove, so the tree focuses on growing and not making fruit.