Have you ever imagined strolling through your garden to collect some super fresh and deliciously juicy peaches or nectarines? Maybe you truly do believe that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but your grocery bill is starting to add up and you are getting bored with the simple Red Delicious every single day. There are many reasons to have fruit trees in your very own garden — not only will you be able to enjoy the fresh fruit, but the fruit trees will also look great year round. While most fruit trees will live up to 15 or even 30 years, there is a lot of planning that is involved to ensure that they live a full and long life. Preparing your orchard for new fruit trees is essential, and these steps will help you along the way.
The planning process may be a lengthy one, and that is okay.
When planting a fruit tree, you will have to consider the fact that this new apple, cherry or plum tree will be a pretty permanent fixture over the next couple of decades. Once established, the tree will obviously be much larger and may require more in the way of water and sunlight — making it extremely important to consider the future needs of the tree roots and to ensure that the soil properties are adequate to support growth. It is no wonder that most gardeners spend up to three years in the planning stage — as an investment, you will want to be sure that your tree has all it needs to grow well.
Spend some time finding the ideal location for your new fruit trees.
When planting herbs, vegetables, or flowers, location can be a relatively important consideration. With trees however, the location can significantly alter the growth success of the tree — as well as the things that are planted around it. If you are lucky enough to have a slightly sloped garden, the fruit trees will do well to be planted on areas of elevation. However, the specific area where the tree will be planted should be mostly flat to allow for equal and widespread water retention.
You will also have to consider the wind that the tree will receive, planting it on too high an elevation will make it vulnerable to high winds and cold. Similarly, planting it in lower areas of the garden may lead to waterlogging during periods of heavy rain and dangerously cold conditions during the winter.
Ideally, find an area of the garden that gets good drainage and is exposed to full, or nearly full sunlight. If your garden is rather shady, plums and apples are the best fruit trees to consider. Additionally, areas with thick, fully established grasses will compete with the trees for water and nutrients and best be avoided.
Healthy soil means healthy trees.
Due to the nature of their rapidly expanding root system, heavy clay soils will generally not support adequate and healthy growth of a fruit tree while sandy soils will not be able to hold enough moisture. The soil will need to be loose and friable, allowing for root growth and thorough water distribution. Before planting your new tree, there are a few things that can be done to bring the soil to its optimal condition.
A soil test will indicate which nutrients, if any, should be added prior to planting — the results may tell you that fertilizer or a new irrigation system may need to be added. The planting hole then should be dug to around three feet deep, working to aerate and break up dense patches while doing so. The soil can be mixed with good quality compost and then piled into a mound (it should look like a volcano) in which the tree will be planted in.
Be sure to provide post-planting support.
The mounded fruit tree should be heavily mulched to help suppress weed growth and retain moisture. During the first few stages of growth, the tree will need regular water — once established, however, rainfall should be adequate in most regions of the world. Shrubs can be planted around the base of the tree to attract pollinators, deter pests, and provide ground cover and organic matter that will support growth.
Following these steps comes the difficult part — waiting for the fruit! However, if you have taken the time to plan your fruit tree well and have followed these simple steps to ensure adequate growth, you should be able to enjoy a delicious and juicy apple, pear, or peach in just a few years!
Daniel has worked in the management, cutting, and caring of trees for the last 20 years. He works and helps run Bellarine Trees and is passionate about the environment and tree worker safety. He has a wife and two daughters and he enjoys playing tennis in his spare time.