As the Apple Orchard Manager at Arbor Day Farm, I often get questions about how to create a fruit orchard in a home or landscape setting. There are several items that you should consider to make sure you find a tree that is right for you.
Determine the Right Fruit Tree for your landscape
Step 1: When choosing a fruit tree in your yard or home, the first consideration is the growing zone in which you live.
Step 2: Next you need to do a sight analysis. Take in to consideration the amount of space available, shade patterns, and competition for water and nutrients. Most fruit trees require full sun. Note: When planting fruit trees in your yard, plant trees in areas that receive as little shade as possible from neighboring trees. This will also reduce competition of water and nutrients, maximizing the production potential of your tree.
The amount of space available will dictate the mature size of the tree that you plant. If space is limited, consider planting trees that are grafted to dwarf or semi- dwarf fruit trees or rootstock.
Dwarf fruit trees may reach a height of 6- to 10-feet. Dwarf Fruit Tree Spacing
Semi-dwarf fruit trees may reach 10- to 15-feet in height. Semi Dwarf Fruit Tree Spacing
Standard fruit trees can reach 25 plus feet in height. Standard Fruit Tree Spacing
Step 3: When selecting fruit, choose the ones you and your family will enjoy. Planting, caring for, and picking fruit can be a fun and educational activity for your family. Proper choices will increase you families fruit consumption and teach them health values they will carry into adulthood. This will also teach them where their food comes from.
Free Helpful Online Tool: A good online guide to help you select a fruit tree is the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Wizard.
Purchasing your fruit trees
When planting fruit trees, it is advisable to plant two or more varieties to maximize pollination. These varieties need to be of the same bloom period and of different variety. Example: Plant a Jonathan next to a golden Delicious.
Choose a reputable nursery for your plant material. Local nurseries and county extensions also can recommend what fruit types will grow in your area as well as give you tips and cultural practices to ensure the success of your planting. The online Tree Wizard also is a great guideline for helping you to select a tree and the Arbor Day Foundation has a wide selection of inexpensive fruit trees.
After you plant your trees
It is important to scout or monitor for insects and disease starting at bud break all the way through harvest. There are organic Pheromones available that disrupt insect mating patterns, reducing insect pressure and damage of your fruit. In extreme cases or if threshold levels are met, chemical application may be required in order to achieve high quality fruit.
Happy planting and enjoy your new home orchard.
Erik Olson, Arbor Day Farm Orchard Manager