Creating A Backyard Fruit Orchard

Creating a backyard fruit orchard can be simple and fun with these tips to help make the orchard as efficient as possible.

If you want crisp apples, sweet pears, succulent peaches and plums, here are a few tips to help create a backyard fruit orchard.

Fruit Tree Basics

Space is important as a lot of fruit trees can grow thirty feet high and half that in width. Determine how much space you have. There are dwarf versions of the many varieties of fruit trees available which are considerably smaller.

Placement of the trees is a factor that can affect the health of the tree and efficiency of its production of fruit. If the branches of the trees are too close to each other, they can easily spread insect infestations and diseases more rapid than if they were further apart.

Most fruit trees require a dormant period, a period that the tree is not in production. This dormancy allows better production of fruits. Most often this period occurs during the winter time as the dormancy period usually requires a temperature of fourth-five degrees or lower.

Choose an area free of standing water and in full sun. Some trees are sold as bare-root, meaning the tree is not in soil. They need to be planted as soon as possible. Other trees are sold potted and can sit a bit before planting is necessary.

Knowing your growing zone is important in the choice of the type of fruit tree you can grow. Some trees such as oranges and other exotic fruit trees prefer a tropical climate whereas apple trees will probably do well in most zones.

Basic Planting and Care of Fruit Trees:

Plant the tree in late fall through early spring with the latter being the best time for planting. Keep the unplanted sapling moist and out of the sun while transporting the tree.

Dig a hole at least a foot and a half deep or at least deep enough to cover the roots. If the sapling isn't bare root, then spread out the roots from the root ball. The root ball is made up of the roots plus the surrounding dirt. Spreading the roots from the root ball prevents the roots from getting bound up and not functioning properly.

Place the sapling into the hole and cover it with enough soil to make it level to the surrounding ground.



You can fertilize the plant but most trees do not need much fertilizer. Too much fertilizer can cause unwanted growth and not much fruit production.

Give your new tree plenty of watering in the first years. Staking down the tree can prevent toppling from strong winds. Tie a string around the trunk of the tree and connect it to a stake on the ground around the tree. Be careful to not tie the string too tight. This can girdle a tree or cause the tree to grow around the string.

Mulch the base of the tree to help moisture control. Grass clippings are best for a tree but any mulch free of disease and toxins can be used.

Protect the young tree by fencing around it or get a plastic tree guard. Be careful of a tree guard that is too tight. It can cause moisture buildup and increase chances of diseases like mildew and molds. You can also purchase hardware cloth and make a cage from it. You can buy this cloth at any home and garden store.

Once the fruit sets, thinning out the fruit may help production. It also lessens chances of disease spreading throughout the tree. Some years may be more productive than others. Patience is necessary with fruit trees. Give the trees a chance to produce. It may take as much as six years for a new tree to produce fruit. This depends on the type of tree it is.

Apple

Some common apple varieties include Gala, Fuji, Rome and Red Delicious. Most apples require cross-pollination which means that another variety must be planted nearby to get pollination. Without pollination, the apples will not set the fruit.

Pear

Some common varieties of pear include the Bartlett and Anjou pears. Like apples, most pears are not self-pollinating so they will need another type to cross pollinate. Plant pear trees close to each other. Pear blossoms lack the amount of nectar that invites honeybees and other pollinating insects to the blossoms.

Peach

Common cultivars of peaches grown are Harbinger, Sunhaven and Redhaven. There are generally two main types of peaches however: the freestones and clingstones. Freestones are loosely wrapped around the pit. They are easily separated from the pit. Clingstones are the opposite. They cling to the pit.

Peach trees are less resistant to cold than other common fruit trees. Protect young saplings and blossoms from frost. Choose types that are hardy in low winter temperatures.

Peach trees are self pollinators meaning they will pollinate themselves without use of another type of peach tree.

Plum

Plums stem from three different types European, Japanese and Damson. The European are most common and include the Stanley plum. The Japanese type plums are not very frost tolerant and need warmer areas to grow. Damson type plums are generally tart and are used in cooking.

Cherry

There are sweet and tart cherries. Tart cherries such as Montmorency and Early Richmond are self pollinators but will not pollinate the sweet cherries. Sweet cherries on the other hand need cross pollination with another sweet cherry. Sweet cherry cultivars include Bing and Rainier. Some sweet cherries do not cross pollinate well with other sweet cherries. Be careful to read or ask about the cultivar you are buying.

Exotic and Unusual Trees

Using a grafting technique, some trees are grown to grow two, three or sometimes even four different fruits. You could have four of your favorite fruits on just one tree.

Exotic trees such as the orange tree can be done in the right conditions. Orange trees are best grown in warm areas but there are dwarf varieties that are grown in greenhouses in Northern Climates. Other citrus and exotic fruits could include the Papaya, Lemon and Fig trees. Each is like the Orange in that a warm climate is needed to grow them.

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