How to Plant Fruit Trees
Fruit trees are easy to grow in the backyard and can yield years’ worth of beautiful spring blooms and fruit. Apple, Peach and Pear trees grow well in a variety of climates but it will take time before they bear fruit so keep that in mind. If you are intrigued by growing and eating your own fruit, here are the steps you need to take to start your own backyard orchard.
Choose Your Tree
Buy a bare root fruit tree. You want your fruit tree to produce fruit you’ll want to eat. The best way to achieve this is to buy a bare root fruit tree, which is a very young tree that has already been grafted. It’s best to plant as soon as possible after you get your tree and be sure to plant fruit trees in soil that is nutrient rich and retains moisture, but isn’t water saturated.
Fruit trees love sun and generally need at least six hours of full sunlight. Make sure the tree has plenty of room to grow and won’t be obstructed by other trees or structures.
Digging Your Hole
Fruit trees can be planted at any time of year, but your best bet is to plant in the spring. This will allow the tree to immediately start adapting to the soil and growing roots.
Add compost to the soil if needed. If you have clay-heavy soil, or soil that is hard and packed, it’s a good idea to till the soil to a depth of at least 2 feet and work in some compost. Loosen up the soil, then add compost and mix it in.
Dig a hole twice as wide as the spread of the roots and tree. Make sure that the roots are surrounded by loose soil but don’t dig too deep. It’s important the graft at the base of the tree stay above the soil. If you’re planting more than one tree, plant them at least 18 inches apart. The more space you can give them, the better.
Follow directions for amending the soil during the fruit tree planting process. Depending on what type of tree you’re planting and what your soil quality is, you may want to add organic nutrients to the hole you’ve dug before planting.
Position the tree in the hole and press soil around the roots. Cover all the roots completely and make sure the tree is straight up and down and in the center of the hole. Tamp soil when done to remove any air pockets.
Water the roots. Thoroughly water the area so that the soil fills in around the tree’s roots. Add more soil, press it down gently and water again. Continue this process until the soil reaches the actual ground level. Don’t over water the tree. If the roots remain soaked, they can rot. It’s important to plant in an area that drains.
Stake your fruit tree if needed by tying it to a strong stick with a cloth or rubber. Keep it loose enough to avoid restraining the tree. This helps the tree grow straight and tall.
Be sure to mulch around your tree as this will help retain the moisture in the soil and protect the roots. It will also prevent grass and weeds from growing and competing for nutrients and water as well. Do not cover the graft line with mulch, keeping it visible above ground level.
Caring for Your Fruit Tree
It’s important to initially prune your tree once it’s planted and again during the first 4 or 5 years. This will help shape the tree and generate more fruit through the years.
Protect your trees from rabbits or deer because they will eat them. Use a plastic bio-degradeable spiral tree guard or wire mesh that will physically stop them from getting to the tree’s trunk.
Keep the area around your tree weed-free by keeping a thick mulch cover. If weeds do appear, weed by hand and avoid treating weeds with chemicals as these will harm your tree.
Follow these steps and you will have your own backyard orchard. Fruit will come about 4 years after you first plant but your backyard orchard will provide years of blooms and fruit so it’s worth the wait.