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CHOOSING THE RIGHT PLANTING LOCATION FOR YOUR FRUIT TREES
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Planting fruit trees in the right location is as important as choosing a variety that will survive in your area of the country. Growing your own fruit at home is a great family activity, but careful planning is necessary.
Dwarf trees grow to between 6 and 10 feet tall with at least an equal spread depending on the particular rootstock they were grafted on.
My 14 foot tall fruit tree was labeled as an 8 to 10 foot tall dwarf. Either my apple tree was a semi dwarf that was mislabeled at the nursery (which happens more often than you think,) or else some trees will grow much more vigorously in soil that they happen to like.
NOTE: You must allow for this possibility at the time of planting. Give it room!
Semi dwarf trees are generally described as growing between 10 to 15 feet tall with at least an equal spread.
Standard (full sized) trees usually reach between 20 to 25 feet tall.
Apple trees might exceed that. I have heard reports of 30 to 35 foot tall apple trees, although I have never seen any that approached that height, either in orchards or in a home garden.
Peach, nectarine, and plum trees are naturally smaller than apple, pear, and cherry trees.
PLANTING DISTANCE BETWEEN FRUIT TREES
A safe planting distance between fruit trees is:
- 14 to 16 feet apart for Dwarf trees
- 20 to 22 feet apart for Semi Dwarf trees
- And at least 30 feet apart for Standard sized trees.
- Standard sized apple trees should be planted 35 feet apart.
RELATED ARTICLE: PLANNING YOUR FRUIT ORCHARD
After deciding on the variety of tree you want to plant, you need to get out the tape measure to make sure you have enough room to plant it. Squeezing a tree into a tiny spot because it seemed so small when you first bought it is a recipe for disappointment. Digging up a young tree and trying to transplant it is going to be way more exercise than you think.
NOTE: This is something you can’t easily dig up and correct later if it is overlooked now. Choose the right location the first time around since transplant shock can kill expensive plants and trees.
GIVE IT ROOM!
Always allow at least a few extra feet of space between trees when you dig your planting holes. A tree might grow larger than expected depending on the type of rootstock it is grafted on. Constant sawing and pruning of an overgrown tree gets real old in a hurry!
If space is limited, don’t crowd! You may have to decide on the fruit trees you want the most and eliminate the rest. You are not just planning for the amount of “head room” the trees need for the branches to spread out. Consider how the roots will compete for the nutrients and moisture in the soil, and how this will impact the growth of nearby plants, especially in time of drought.
RELATED ARTICLE: GRAFTING ROOTSTOCK 101
PROVIDING SUNLIGHT AND AIR CIRCULATION
Notice if your tree will create too much shade on any sun loving flowers and shrubs. Planting long rows of fruit trees from north to south makes the best use of sunlight. Just don’t plant the rows too close together or you’ll create far too much shade and inhibit air circulation.
If your yard is situated so that you must plant a row of trees from east to west, give them at least half again as much space between each tree so they will have more light.
CHECKING OUT THE VISTA
When you decide where to plant your trees, place markers (or flags) where you intend to dig the planting holes. This is not only to make sure your lines are straight, but also to evaluate how the trees will appear in the landscape when fully grown.
Stand where each tree is to be planted and look in all directions to check out the vista. No one wants to block the view of something important, like a flower bed or water feature, with a large tree.
Conversely, a fast growing tree can be planted to block the window view of a nosy neighbor. “I’ll fix that!” said my Aunt when the gal across the street inquired who her visitor was that she saw emerging from her bathroom.
Whether planting a privacy screen, or a long row of fruit trees, make sure that you don’t dig into an electrical or a gas line. Always call the power and light company (as well as telephone, water, and sewer) before you dig.
HAPPY PLANTING! Susan
For more in-depth information on GROWING YOUR OWN FRUIT