Fruit tree in backyard


Most important: know your site’s drainage.

Most fruit trees will not survive in soil that drains so slowly it remains water-saturated for extended periods. Before planting, be sure you are familiar with how well your soil drains.

Test your drainage.

  • Dig a hole about l foot deep and fill it with water.
  • If the water drains within 3 or 4 hours, fill the hole again.
  • If it takes longer than 3 or 4 hours to drain on the 1st or 2nd filling, you have problems!

If your intended planting site drains poorly your options are:

  • Don’t plant there.
  • Plant the tree above the present soil line by constructing a berm, mound or raised bed.
  • Install a French Drain (a trench filled with gravel or rock that allows water to drain away from the planting area – see How To Install French Drains For Yard Drainage).

Berms and Mounds

The root crown, the upper part of the root system to just below the soil line, is the most vulnerable part of a tree. In many instances, a 6-12” high raised planting area (mound or berm) is sufficient to raise tree root crowns above wet soil. A 6-inch high mound should be at least 2 ½ feet in diameter, a 10- to 12-inch mound or berm at least 3-4 feet wide. Mounds should have as gentle a slope as possible to minimize erosion.

Raised Bed

A good way to plant trees higher than the surrounding soil is to make a bottomless box using 2×12 redwood or cedar or other material such as rock, concrete block, railroad ties, etc. (See How To Build a Raised Bed.)


For the healthiest trees and tastiest fruit choose the sunniest available planting location. The main exception is a low desert climate where summer temperatures reach 110°+; fruit trees there benefit from some afternoon shade.

Layout and Spacing

Spacing depends on your objectives, your plan – how much fruit you want from each tree, how many trees are wanted in the total space available and how you intend to control tree size. (Remember, small trees maintained by summer pruning are much easier to spray, thin, prune and harvest than large trees.)

If planting high density, plant as close as 18 inches apart for 2, 3 or 4 trees in one hole and 2 or 3 feet apart for hedgerow. (See What Is Backyard Orchard Culture? and High-Density Planting – Simple Examples.)

If you have plenty of space and want larger trees, plant at wider spacings. It’s up to you.

And! Please read our articles Multi-Planting Strategies and The Art of Successive Ripening for multi-planting suggestions.

Reminder – if multi-planting, plant similar rootstocks together and trees with simliar spray requirements together. Contact your local fruit tree nursery or a Master Gardener in your area for spray recommendations.

About Planting Fruit Trees


No fertilizer is needed at the time of planting a bare root tree. Furthermore, fertilizers in contact with tender young feeder roots can kill them and set back or kill the tree.

Soil Amendments

Ultimately, trees must grow in the surrounding soil. Don’t make a hole of amended soil surrounded by slow-draining native soil – the tree hole will just fill with water, killing the tree. The only remedy for poorly draining soil is some sort of raised bed or planting in containers. Adding organic matter to sandy soil, however, can help retain moisture in the root zone of newly planted trees. Check with your local fruit tree nursery regarding recommended soil amendments.

Planting Depth

When planted, the tree should be at the height it was in the nursery; the nursery soil line is visible on the trunk as a slight change in bark color. It’s very important not to plant the tree too low. If you will be watering-in the tree after planting (as you should when planting in fast-draining soil), plant an inch or two high to allow for settling.

Caring For Bare Root Trees

Bare root trees should be planted as soon as possible after purchasing. If buying trees before planting day, keep the roots wrapped or covered to maintain moisture and high humidity; store in a cool location. Bareroot trees may be held before planting by heeling in: cover the roots well with a moist (not soggy) medium such as sawdust (but not redwood or cedar), sand or porous soil. Do not let the roots dry out or freeze.

How to Plant A Fruit Tree

  • Dig the hole a little deeper than the root is tall — and make it wide enough to accommodate the longest roots without bending.

  • Loosen the sides of the hole. Roots sometimes do not readily penetrate a slick interface.
  • Backfill with native or slightly amended soil until the bottom of the hole is at the right planting depth for the tree. If multi-planting in one hole, backfill to correct planting depth for each tree.
  • Prune off any broken, rotted or twisted roots, making a clean cut.
  • Position the tree, spread the roots and refill the hole, tamping the soil around the roots as you go.
  • If planting in fast-draining soil, water thoroughly in order to finish settling the soil around the roots. In slower-draining soils, water a little at a time – over several days if necessary.
  • Usually, no further water is necessary until there is new growth of several inches.

Note: If there is a prevailing wind in your area that reaches your site, compensate by leaning the tree slightly into the upwind direction when you plant. The side of the tree where the scion emerges from the rootstock should be pointing upwind.

Planting in A Raised Box (See How To Build A Raised Bed)

  • Construct a 3 to 4 foot square box for a single tree, 5 ft. x 5 ft. for four trees in one hole.
  • Place the box on the poorly draining spot.
  • Dig a shallow hole only if necessary to allow for proper planting depth (see above). In any viable garden soil tree roots will find their own way to anchorage.
  • Place the tree in the box, spread the roots and fill the box with soil (slightly amended if necessary), tamping the soil around the roots as you go.
  • Water as needed to maintain soil moisture around the roots.

Last Steps


If you want the fruiting wood to begin low, smaller trees may be cut back at planting time to a height as low as the knee (15-20 inches). Any remaining side limbs should be cut back to one or two buds. Larger trees may be cut above existing well-placed low limbs, or they too may be cut back low to force new, lower limbs. (See “What Is Backyard Orchard Culture?”, including the caution regarding cutting back larger sizes of peach and nectarine.)

Paint the Trunk

Sunburn can damage newly planted trees, especially in the climates of the southwestern U.S. An interior white latex, diluted 50% with water, can help protect trees from this problem. Paint your newly-planted trees from the ground all the way to the top.


Mulch applied as a top dressing is beneficial to plants and the soil; as mulch decomposes it provides a steady source of nutrients to plants and organic matter to the soil. And, it helps to stabilize and conserve soil moisture. (See Water and Mulch.)

Related Content

Last edit 12-19-18

Planting Fruit Trees in Fall: 11 Tips for Success

Until I started homesteading, I thought fruit trees had to be planted in spring because that’s when they went on sale at the big box hardware stores. Now, though, I know that planting fruit trees in fall is often an even better idea.

Why Spring Might Not Be the Best Time to Plant Fruit Trees

There are a couple of reasons why spring-planted trees endure more stress than fall-planted trees.

Reproductive Drive

In spring, trees are eager to flower and reproduce. The fruit that grows from the buds contains the seeds that will eventually grow into new trees.

When you buy trees from nurseries, they are usually a few years old. This means they are at an age when they are likely to start fruiting. With spring-planted trees, you have to aggressively remove flower buds to ensure trees don’t waste all their energy trying to produce that first year.

Since most fruit trees do not produce in late summer or fall, by planting at this time, you don’t have to do that extra work of pinching off buds to keep trees focused on root growth.

Transpiration Trouble

In hot weather, trees transpire to keep themselves cool. Transpiration is the plant equivalent of human perspiration. Plants draw moisture from their roots to cool their leaves. This moisture evaporates and acts like an air conditioner for the trees.

For spring-planted trees without well-established root systems, frequent, deep watering is a must to ensure they don’t overheat. So unless we’ve invested in a good irrigation system, chances are that newly planted trees will often run short on moisture at the root zone. As a result, they won’t be able to stay cool in high temperatures.

When plants can’t transpire, their leaves dehydrate and die. That loss of leaves means trees can’t photosynthesize and send sugars to the roots.

Trees don’t always die from the loss of leaves. As temperatures cool in fall, they may put on new leaves in a last ditch effort to put up some food for winter.

Unfortunately, despite those valiant fall food-storage efforts, it’s not always enough to last all winter long. As a result, plants often die during the dormant season when they run out of food.

A lot of people mistakenly think their trees died from things like frost or hard freezes. However, what they really died from was starvation that started back in summer when they couldn’t transpire during intense periods of heat.

Why Is Planting Fruit Trees in Fall Better?

Late summer and fall are when deciduous trees store up their food for winter. They use all that foliage grown in spring to catch sun and transform it into food.

They also take advantage of cooler, typically more moist, soil conditions to drive roots deeper into the ground.

This natural desire to set roots and store food means fall-planted trees focus on setting roots as soon as you put them in the ground.

In order for this to work, though, you must plant trees that are healthy and have good top growth. A half-naked tree planted in fall won’t have the leaf capacity to support optimal root growth and is just as likely to die as a dehydrated, overheated spring-planted tree.

Plant Only Healthy, Well-Cared-For Fruit Trees

This is why it’s critically important to only plant trees that have obviously been well-cared-for during the hot months. Sourcing trees from reputable mail-order nurseries or buying direct from local growers you trust is key.

Good growers keep trees in shade, water regularly, and otherwise ensure that trees grown for sale have lots of top growth and root moisture at critical times.

Choose the Right Trees

Regardless of when you plant, choosing trees that are suited for your environmental conditions is the only way to ensure their survival.

Cold Hardiness

Thanks to a pretty aggressive educational campaign by the USDA, many gardeners (or soon-to-be gardeners) are familiar with the idea of cold hardiness in plants. If you live in the U.S., you can easily discover your cold-hardiness zone. Additionally, most plant tags, or nurseries, can immediately tell you the cold tolerance of the plants they offer for sale.

Cold hardiness, or what the USDA refers to as plant hardiness, is only the measure of a plant’s ability to withstand the average frosts in your area. It is not a blanket guarantee that a plant is suitable for all the growing conditions in your area.

For example, I live in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 7a. According to the USDA, this means I need to plant trees that are rated for ground freezes down to 0-5°F. With wind chill, though, our actual lows often fall below this average. Therefore, when I choose plants for my landscape, I make sure they are cold hardy for Zone 6.

Cold hardiness is just one of the many pieces of information you need to use to choose the right fruit trees for your landscape.

Heat Hardiness

With climate change being our new reality, many of us are having to deal with heat waves like we’ve never experienced before. Thanks to the efforts of the American Horticultural Society (AHS), heat hardiness is now being measured in plants.

If you live in areas with more than a few days a year over 85ºF, you really want to consider plants that are rated as heat tolerant. However, heat-hardiness data is not yet as prevalent as cold-hardiness data. You can’t always find this information on labels or in catalogs yet.

Since this information is not universally available, you may need to dig deeper and get anecdotal evidence to determine whether plants are suitable for your climate.

Case in Point: Seaberry and Siberian Peashrubs

For example, seaberry (or sea buckthorn) and Siberian peashrubs are two often-referenced permaculture plants. These both fix nitrogen in the soil while providing potential food sources for humans and livestock. Therefore, they are very attractive to those of us interested in creating self-sustaining landscapes using methods like permaculture.

Unfortunately, I can tell you from experience that the Siberian peashrub drops its leaves when temperatures remain over 80ºF for more than a few days. As a result, these plants are severely stunted in my landscape, even though all other conditions are right for optimal growth.

The seaberry also grows at a snail’s pace in our hot climate. After 4 years of aggressive care, it still hasn’t produced food. Therefore, I would not recommend either of these plants for hot climates.

Using search engines to look for this kind of anecdotal evidence is a good idea for all the perennials that you plant.

Chill Hours

A fellow master gardener volunteer once told me, “All deciduous plants have chill-hour requirements.” I don’t know for sure that this is true, but for spring-flowering fruit trees and shrubs, chill hours are absolutely critical.

“Chill hours” are the number of hours air temperatures are between 32-45ºF. (There are other definitions of chill hours, but they all oscillate around this basic temperature zone.)

Early Bloom

Chill hours are basically a plant’s dormancy clock. Plants go dormant in winter to protect themselves from dying during extended cold. After a certain number of hours of moderately cold (but not freezing) temperatures, the plant’s clock says something like this:

“Well, we’ve had our 300 hours of moderate cold for this year, so winter must be over and spring must be on the way. The next time it gets warm and sunny, let’s grow some blooms so we can reproduce!”

Then, the next time there’s a warm day, the plant will bloom in response to the sensation of warmth. Given the unprecedented temperature highs and lows in winter months that are occuring in so many places, these kinds of “false positives” for spring in plants with low chill-hour requirements are becoming more prevalent.

Because we transport trees around the world, we can easily put a tree with a 300-chill-hour timer in a zone that has 1,200 chill hours each year. When we do, that plant will almost always try to flower too soon. Those blooms will usually die when the normal cold weather returns a couple of days later.

Eventually, that poor plant will succumb to sadness over its repeated failures to reproduce (or it will just freeze to death).

Never Bloom

Now, if you tried to plant a tree that needed 1,500 chill hours in an area that only has 1,200 a year, you’d get a different problem. Instead of setting blooms and losing them to cold, you’d never even get blooms. That tree would also be likely to die from reproductive frustration or heat exhaustion.

If you have planted fruit trees or shrubs that should be producing and are not, and you’ve never even seen blooms, check the chill-hour requirements for your variety. Then, find the chill-hour calculator for your region and find out if you met the requirements.

If you can’t find a chill-hour calculator for your area, check with your agricultural or extension office.

Goldilocks Chill Hours

If you want good fruit production, you need to match a plant’s chill hours to your average chill hours. With climate change upon us, this will sometimes mean that you won’t get fruit in an extremely cold or hot winter. However, matching average chill hours is still a better goal than not considering them at all.


Pollination is another special issue to keep in mind when choosing fruit trees. Fruit trees are either self-fertile or they require cross-pollination.

When you look at fruit tree catalogs (online or printed) from reputable sources, you should either see a notation that the plant is self-fertile or you should see recommendations for pollinizers. (Pollinators are insects, birds, or other critters that do the pollinating. Pollinizers are the plants that provide the pollen the pollinators use).


For cross-pollination, you need at least two different varieties of the same kind of fruit that have the same bloom period. Some plants only require pollination from another similar plant. Others may require pollination by a male (non-fruiting) version of the same kind of plant.

As an example, the Golden Delicious apple is known to have multiple long-bloom periods, so many of us apple growers plant a Golden Delicious tree in the middle of several other apple tree varieties to ensure good cross-pollination.


Self-fertile trees either do not require pollination or can be pollinated by their own blooms and still set fruit. However, even self-fertile trees prefer the company of other pollinizers. You may get even better yields if you plant a pollinizer near self-fertile trees, too.

Planting Requirements

Every plant also has its own special planting requirements. Soil pH, nitrogen and other mineral needs, drainage conditions, sunlight preferences, wind resistance, and other factors will all need to be considered prior to planting for best results.

Using an at-home soil test to determine pH is a good place to start. Without the right pH, trees have no chance of success.

Read More: “At-Home Soil Test Kits: How to Use Them . . . And Why You Should”

Amending your soil as needed with key minerals and mycorrhizal inoculant is also an important preparation to make before or during planting.

Applying specific recommendations from other seasoned growers in your area can also dramatically increase your success rate.

Planting and Care Tips

When you go to the trouble of buying and planting trees, it makes sense to use best practices and the best protection methods available to ensure your plants grow.

Plant at the Right Height

One of the main reasons fruit tree growth is stunted is because new gardeners plant trees too deep. Never plant trees deeper than their original height in the pot. You can even plant an inch or two aboveground to allow room for settling and the application of mulch.

Do Not Compact Soil Around Trees

Another big mistake in tree planting is to stomp on the root mass to make the tree stand up in the soil. This compacts the soil and slows root growth.

Instead, stake trees to hold them in place until the roots begin growing in their new environment.

Protect Trees from Pests

If you have problems in your area with pests such as deer and voles, you need to protect plants at the time of planting. Using tree collars or wire-mesh baskets around trees can deter deer.

Voles need to be thwarted at the root zone, such as by putting 1/2″ wire-mesh baskets directly in the soil as a barrier to digging. Also be sure to protect aboveground with mesh baskets.

Skip the Fall Fertilizer

We fertilize trees in spring to help with bloom and leaf production. However, if you fertilize in fall, you encourage trees to produce leaves rather than set deep roots.

Skip the fertilizer when planting fall trees. Instead, incorporate lots of well-aged compost into your soil prior to planting to help with root establishment.

Mulch Is a Must

In summer, heat and shallow roots are the big concern. Mulching around new trees helps preserve moisture to improve transpiration.

In fall, we need to prevent the moisture loss that comes mostly from wind and dry winter air. Applying several inches of mulch around the tree root area after planting protects young roots from these potentially drying conditions.

Never mulch directly around the trunk, though, as this encourages root growth at the trunk level rather than underground. It also creates pathways for pests and pathogens. You also run the risk of covering the graft union in grafted trees, which can lead to the rootstock overriding the grafted variety. Instead, spread the mulch starting a few inches outside the trunk area.

Also, use appropriate mulch. For plants with pH needs above 5.5, double-shred hardwood works well. For plants with pH needs below 5.5 (such as blueberries), pine needles or mulched oak leaves are a better choice to keep from raising the soil pH during decomposition.

Water Regularly

Plants don’t require watering when the ground is frozen. However, when the soil temperature is above freezing, plant roots will still draw nutrients and water from the soil.

Make sure newly planted trees continue to get adequate water whenever the ground is not frozen. Watering needs vary by tree type, so read up on your plant’s needs to determine the right amount.

Plant With Care

Plants are alive. New science is also proving what we gardeners already knew—plants have the ability to communicate with other life forms in their surroundings.

This means you!

Planting is a great time to bond with your new plants and make them feel welcome. A loved and appreciated plant is more likely to be a healthy plant.

Whether you believe this or not, planting while in the right state of mind can make it a relaxing and meditative act for you, too. Plus, planting in fall when the weather is good gives you an excuse to be outside and take advantage of a beautiful day!

So . . . what are you waiting for? Get out there and plant a new fruit tree!

What are you going to plant this year? Do you have a favorite source for purchasing trees? Do you have any tips that have worked for you? Please take a moment to share your hopes and experiences with our Community!

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Tasha Greer is a regular contributor to The Grow Network and has cowritten several e-books with Marjory Wildcraft. You can follow her ABCs of Homesteading Series on the Mother Earth News homesteading blog and visit her personal blogs at reLuxe renderings and

It’s your yard — yours to do with as you wish. And while that’s great, that doesn’t mean you have to be one of those people who spends every spare moment in their yard, sprucing it up.

But, still, your landscaping could use a little something. But something easy.

Here are five totally doable projects that your budget will barely notice, but your neighbors definitely will:

#1 Add Some (Tough) Edging

Image: Paul Gerritsen/

Tell your grass who’s boss with edging that can stand up to even the crabbiest of all crabgrasses.

But don’t make the mistake that many homeowners make of buying the flexible plastic stuff, thinking it will be easier to install. It’ll look cheap and amateurish from day one.

Worse, it won’t last. And before you know it, you won’t be able to tell where your garden bed ends and your “lawn” begins.

Instead buy the more rigid, tough stuff in either fiberglass, aluminum, or steel.

Tips on installing edging:

  • Lay out a hose in the pattern you want.
  • Sprinkle flour or powdered chalk to mark the hose pattern.
  • Use a lawn edger (or spade) to make an incision for the edging.
  • Tap the edging into the incision with a rubber mallet.

The cost? Mostly your time, and up to $2.50 a square foot for the edging.

#2 Create a Focal Point with a Berm

Image: Jon Jenks-Bauer

A berm is a mound of gently sloping earth, often created to help with drainage. You can also build them to create “island beds,” a focal point of textures and colors that are so much more interesting than plain ol’ green grass.

Plus, they’ll give you privacy — and diffuse street noises. What’s not to like about that? Especially if you live in more urban areas.

For most yards, berms should max out at 2-feet high because of the space needed to properly build one.

They need a ratio of 4-6 feet of width for every foot of height. That’s at least 8 feet for a typical 2-foot high berm. So be sure you have the room, or decrease the height of your berm.

Popular berm plantings include:

  • Flowering bushes, such as azaleas
  • Evergreens, such as blue spruce
  • Perennials such as periwinkle
  • Tall, swaying prairie grasses
  • Lots of mulch to keep weeds away

The cost? Usually less than $300, depending on how big you make it, how much soil you need to buy to get to your desired height, and what plants you choose.

#3 Make a Flagstone Wall

Aim to build a wall no more than 12 inches tall, and it becomes a super simple DIY project — no mortar needed at all!

Image: Stranded in Cleveland

How to build an easy flagstone wall:

  • Dig a trench a couple of inches deep and wide enough to accommodate the flagstones.
  • Fill with pea gravel and/or sand and tamp to make level.
  • Lay out the flagstones to see their shapes and sizes.
  • Stack the smaller stones first.
  • Save the largest, prettiest flagstones for the top layer.
  • Backfill with gravel.

Choose a stone of consistent thickness. Flagstone might be limestone, sandstone, shale — any rock that splits into slabs.

The cost? About $300 for stones and sand (a ton of 2-inch-thick stone is enough for a wall 10 feet long and 12 inches high).


#4 Install a Path with Flagstone or Gravel

There’s something romantic, charming, and simply welcoming about a meandering pathway to your front door or back garden — which means it has super-huge impact when it comes to your home’s curb appeal.

You can use flagstone, pea gravel, decomposed or crushed granite, even poured concrete (although that’s not easy to DIY).

A few tips for building a pathway:

  • Allow 3 feet of width for clearance.
  • Create curves rather than straight lines for a pleasing effect.
  • Remove sod at least 3 to 4 inches deep to keep grass from coming back.
  • If you live in an area with heavy rains, opt for large, heavy stones.

The cost? Anywhere from a couple of hundred bucks to upwards of $500 depending on the material you use, with decomposed granite being the least expensive, and flagstone (also the easiest of the bunch to install) the costliest.

Stefan Grunkemeier

#5 Build a Tree Surround

Image: Clean Green Landscape

Installing a masonry surround for a tree is a two-fer project: It looks great, and it means you’ve got less to mow. Come to think of it, it’s a three-fer. It can work as extra seating when you have your lawn party, too!

All it takes is digging a circular trench, adding some sand, and installing brick, cement blocks, or stone. Just go for whatever look you like best.

The trickiest part is getting an even circle around the tree. Here’s how:

  1. Tie a rope around the tree, making a loop big enough so that when you pull it taut against the tree, the outer edge of the loop is right where you want the surround to be.
  2. Set your spade inside the loop with the handle plumb — straight up and down. Now, as you move around the tree, the loop of rope keeps the spade exactly the same distance from the base of the tree, creating a nice circle.

Then build the tree surround:

  • Dig out a circular trench about 8 inches deep and 6 inches wide.
  • Add a layer of sand.
  • Set bricks at an angle for a saw-tooth effect or lay them end-to-end.
  • Fill the surround with 2 to 3 inches of mulch.

The cost? Super cheap. You can do it for less than $25 with commonly-available pavers and stones.


  • Trees You Should Never Plant in Your Yard
  • 4 Genius Yard Upgrades Even a Klutz Can Crush

Gallery featuring pictures of 24 delicious backyard fruit tree ideas, showing you exactly how you can enjoy these useful trees in your own yard!

Welcome to our delicious gallery of fantastic fruit tree ideas for your backyard!

If you are looking for some great additions for your garden and yard that will give you something in return, you may want to consider fruit trees.

Fruit trees can be hardy and long lasting installments in your landscape. They can also cut down on your food costs and provide your family with nutritious snacks.

Fruit trees are a great choice for your yard because they not only provide food but they look great. They don’t need to be sectioned off into garden corners. They can serve their purpose out in the open, and even provide shade as well as nutrition.

What are the pros and cons of planting fruit trees in your yard?


  1. Food – Fruit trees provide great additional nutrition to you and your family. The yield of these trees can cut down your grocery bill and provide you with healthy and fresh fruit in your diet.
  2. Low maintenance – If your trees are appropriate for your region, there is not much required maintenance needed to keep them healthy and productive.
  3. Long lasting – Barring any unforeseen incidents, fruit trees should grow and produce delicious fruit year after year.


  1. Pests – The fruit that your tree produces may attract a variety of animals to your property for food. You may have to take additional measures to prevent them from invading your yard.
  2. Regional – There are some things you simply will not be able to grow depending on where you are. Your orchard will be determined by your location and the local climate.
  3. Spray vs insects – If you want to maximize your harvest you will have to treat your fruit and trees to keep the insects off of them. Not everyone likes to use insecticides. If you do not, you should expect to lose a percentage of your bounty to bugs.
  4. Time commitment – When you buy fruit trees they are typically planted young. You will have to care for young trees for some time before you are able to see them produce large bounties.

Fruit trees are not typically expensive. You can usually find fruit trees for between $15 and $20 per tree, depending on availability and the particular tree that you are looking for. (Source: Arbor Day)

Find more backyard ideas in our definitive guide to backyards!

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This nice little eating spot is located under some shady fruit trees. This is a wonderful place to sit back and relax. You don’t even have to go back to the house to grab a quick snack.

Fruit trees can be purchased quite young. These young trees will likely need to be replanted as they grow. But, until they mature, you can keep infant trees in planters.

Even small fruit trees will produce fruits for you. It may be just a few here and there, but the longer you care for the tree the bigger it will get and the more fruit it will grow. Source: Zillow Digs™

Traditional Patio by Mountain View Photographers mark pinkerton – vi360 photography

Even if you don’t have a massive amount of space for trees in your backyard you can still fit at least one fruit tree. One fruit tree is enough to be of benefit to any yard.

🔥 TIP: !

If you want a functional and beautiful centerpiece to your patio, a fruit tree is an amazing option. This fruit tree stands tall on this patio, providing shade and nutrition to the people who want to relax there.

Mediterranean Landscape by Newport Beach Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers AMS Landscape Design Studios, Inc.

Need to finance your home improvement project? Discover excellent financing options for your reno, furniture purchase or other financing need.

This yard has planters that hold a combination of flowers and fruit trees. Fruit trees pair well with flowers because they can contribute fabulous colors and textures to the garden profile.

Even on their own merit fruit trees look great. This yard is dotted with a few fruit trees. These trees bloom with dots of color that can then be picked, eaten, and enjoyed. Fruit trees are not only beautiful but functional. Source: momentcaptured1 / Flickr

A couple of fully grown fruit trees can provide quite a haul of fruit. If your family is small you will have more fruit than you will know what to do with; you’ll be knee deep in pies and yogurt mix-ins. Source: Zillow Digs™

Mediterranean Landscape by Morro Bay Landscape Contractors Gardens by Gabriel, Inc.

Fruit trees do a great job of punctuating large gardens. Their color profiles and textures can really be exemplified with a well placed fruit tree. And unlike most flowers, you can eat what the tree produces.

Even a single fruit tree will produce plenty of fruit. Make sure to pick a fruit that suits your area, as well as one that you like enough to eat often. It may be beneficial to look into one that produces a fruit your friends and family won’t mind taking off your hands once in awhile.

Need a landscaping service? Get a free estimate online from top local landscaping services in your area.

Fruit trees go with almost any design. No matter what kind of interesting and unique style you have going on in your landscaping, you can add a touch of utility with a fruit tree. Source: Zillow Digs™

There are lots of different fruit trees out there that you can mix and match to get a variety of fruit in your harvest. This is one way to make sure that you don’t get overly saturated with only one type of fruit.

Contemporary Landscape by Newport Beach Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers AMS Landscape Design Studios, Inc.

This sleek and modern design has incorporated fruit trees. The design introduces nature to the minimal and clean lines of the modern look.

Even among other greenery and trees a fruit tree stands out with a unique pop that draws attention. Not only that but they create a bounty of delicious snacks. Source: David Cohen / Flickr

If you are really ambitious you can fill an entire area with fruit trees. At that rate you may have so many fruits that you will be able to sell them for profit. This is a great way to make fruit trees work to your advantage.
Source: Zillow Digs™

Traditional Landscape by New York Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Johnsen Landscapes & Pools

Some fruit trees have great color and bloom with lovely blossoms. This is a great feature of stylish and beautiful trees.

If you have a large outdoor space, you may decide to place a few large mature fruit trees on your property. Unlike spaces where your fruit trees are close to your dwelling, it may be less of an issue when critters get into the fruit.

Here is a fruit tree in a small backyard space. A small yard can still be a great space for some fruit trees. Fruit trees can liven up your small yard and freshen up the entire area. Source: Spender Tweedy / Flickr

Traditional Landscape by South San Francisco Landscape Contractors Terra Ferma Landscapes

A bench is a wonderful spot to sit and enjoy a stunning fruit tree. Sitting on this bench, enjoying the outdoors while snacking on a nice fresh piece of fruit is a marvelous way to get back to nature.

If you have an indoor space that can support plants you can extend the growing season of your flowers, fruits, and vegetables. This may potentially allow you to grow fruit that may not be possible in your climate normally. Source: Zillow Digs™

Your entire family will eat healthier when there is fresh fruit readily available. You can cut down on processed snacks and increase vitamins.

When you have an outdoor eating area like this one it’s always nice to have food at the ready. The fruit tree nearby will provide you and your guests with a fair share of fresh fruit.

The more space you have, the more variety of fruit trees you can manage. You can even build your own personal orchard. Find a few complimentary fruits and you can supplement nearly every meal with healthy and fresh fruit.

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Tags: Backyards, Trees Categories: Gardens and Landscaping

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Most people are interested in some kind of self-sufficiency, whether it be lowering their grocery bill or cutting back on utilities – or both. Some just like the idea of being able to eat wholesome, homegrown foods. All of this can come from edible landscaping without sacrificing the aesthetics of your yard.

Edible Landscaping Benefits

The benefits of edible landscaping are enormous. Not only can a well-planned landscape (edible or not) look really good, but it can feed your family as well! Edible landscapes can provide food, shade, healthy outdoor recreation and family time, and more. They can also lower your grocery bill, increase family togetherness, be beneficial to health in many ways, and can provide organic food that you not only trust, but grew yourself!

Incorporating Fruit Into Yard Design

Probably the hardest part of putting together an edible landscape for most people is planning it without totally dismantling their current yard/landscape. If your yard already includes mature trees, healthy lawn, and beautiful flower beds, you may be wondering where you’ll fit in edibles without tearing down what’s already been painstakingly put there.

It’s best to start by planning in the late fall or winter. This is when your yard is at its barest and when you’ll begin thinking about the annuals or other plants you’ll have to replace next season. Those annual and maintenance replacements will be your starting point.

If your flower beds include a lot of annuals (as most do), then you can start thinking about replacing some or all of those annuals with fruit shrubs or plants instead. Put strawberries intermixed with daisies or other flowers to create an edible, but still flowery bed. Intermix some kitchen herbs in pots with your flowers for decoration and to change the topography a little. Try some cherry tomatoes or bush beans in the hanging pot instead of flowers too. Lots of beauty comes from plants that we would otherwise think of as vegetables.

Maintenance replacements can also be done with edibles instead. Put in a raspberry bush instead of replacing that dead rose bush. Or try growing red leaf lettuce instead of a fern – you can usually get 2-3 lettuce crops in one season in most of the U.S. by trimming for the salad bowl throughout the year and cutting seed buds before they hatch.

Cutting down a dead tree or removing one that’s too close to something else? Why not see if you can replace that tree with a smaller fruit-bearer? Many dwarf varieties of popular fruit trees can occupy the same areas where a much larger oak or pine tree lived and be both fruitful and provide shade and decoration without spreading too wide with roots or branches.

Overall, just look at your yard and think about what can be replaced with edible plants without requiring that you destroy something that you already find beautiful or beneficial.

Ideas for Landscaping With Fruit

If you’re starting from scratch, plan based on what the finished (mature) plants and trees will look like. Some plants, like raspberries and even the diminutive lemon bush, are beautiful for nearly the whole season and provide great edibles. Trees, on the other hand, take a long time to mature and get much larger than their purchased size, so their total impact should be considered first. Many edibles require cross-pollination, so know which need what to do so and plan accordingly. Starting from scratch is the easiest, though. It’s incorporating into an existing landscape that is more difficult.

Use the above techniques to begin replacing annuals and plants that are dying or no longer look the way you’d like. There are a lot of possibilities here and no single option is going to be best for everyone. Just do it!

Want to learn more about landscaping with fruit?

Fruit Gardening in the Landscape from Texas A&M University Extension Service.
Landscaping with Fruit: A PDF from University of Tennessee Extension Service.

An edible landscape is great for city gardeners. Consider growing fruit trees in pots or as part of your front yard landscape. If you want to try landscaping with fruit trees, check out the following list of fruit trees that are good for small spaces, as well as some basic information to get started in your efforts to grow urban fruit.

An edible landscape is essentially an aesthetically pleasing design that incorporates productive crops. Growing fruit trees as dual-purpose landscape plants is a great way to make the most of the space you have. Pretty blossoms in the springtime, fruit in the summertime, and a tree to create shade or structure within your garden!

Why some people don’t plant fruit trees

Fruit trees are no different than many non-fruiting landscape trees, with one exception: They provide a harvest. To me, that sounds fabulous. If a tree is taking up space in my yard, better that it offers up some fruit. But not everyone wants to deal with harvesting fruit. (It’s likely that those people are not here reading this, though!)

In designing public spaces, there’s a hesitancy to use fruiting trees because of the mess factor. If a tree fruits and nobody is there to harvest that fruit, it will fall to the ground. Fruit on the ground is unsightly and can draw undesirable insects and rodents, or become a tripping hazard. These are valid concerns for commercial and community spaces, though it does seem like a missed opportunity.

Why not plant productive trees, creating an edible landscape with the intention to harvest the fruit for local food banks? That seems like a great use of common areas and medians. Bonus: Trees are great for the Earth!

Related: Small Vegetable Garden Ideas: What to Grow to Make the Most of Your Space

List of fruit trees for an edible landscape

Apple – The spreading branches of a mature standard-sized apple tree are perfect for sitting under. Beautiful white and pink blossoms in the spring are slightly fragrant. Harvest, late summer and autumn.

Banana – Ranging in size from a few feet tall to more than 20′ tall, there is a wide selection of banana varieties available to backyard growers. Choose small banana plants (see here for some options) for container growing.

Cherry – Non-fruiting or “ornamental” cherry trees are frequently planted for their gorgeous blossoms. Opt for a fruiting variety for more bang for your buck. Harvest, early summer

Citrus – An evergreen tree for frost-free climates, citrus trees like orange, tangerine, and lemon are year-round beauties. Harvest, winter.

Fig – The oversized leaves of a fig tree offer a tropical look to the landscape. Many fig varieties offer two harvests per year. Figs are easy to grow in pots, too.

Related: 5 Reasons to Plant a Crabapple Tree in your Garden

Mulberry – With large fruit resembling blackberries, a mulberry tree can serve several purposes in your edible landscape. The fruit is excellent, if a bit hard to harvest. It can also act as a lure to draw birds and squirrels away from other ripening fruit. Try planting one in an area where the dropping fruit can provide fodder for chickens so that any fruit you don’t harvest will go to feed your flock.

Nectarine – The dark, slender green leaves of a nectarine tree make it a summertime beauty. Harvest, late summer. Here’s how to start a nectarine tree from seed.

Olive – An evergreen tree with fine leaves, olive trees are great landscape plants and people often plant them for their beauty rather than the fruit. Olives need to be processed before they are edible.

Pear – In addition to delicate spring blossoms and a tasty crop, pear trees offer fall color to your yard as well. Harvest, late summer.

Persimmon – A beautiful tree with spreading branches, persimmons are most noticeable in the fall when the leaves drop and bright orange fruit remains. Harvest, autumn. Here’s more on growing a persimmon tree.

Pineapple guava – A small tree or upright shrub, this evergreen produces bluish green fruit. It grows we ll in cool coastal locations. Harvest, summer.

Plum – Desirable for their vivid pink spring blossoms, flowering plum trees are used frequently as a landscape plant. You can have similar beauty plus a great harvest by choosing a fruiting plum. Harvest, late spring and summer.

Related: 15 Smart Gardening Hacks to Save You Time and Money

Size matters

Fruit trees come in four different sizes: Standard, semi-dwarf, dwarf, and less commonly, super-dwarf. This means that you can choose a tree that will fit your space perfectly. When considering the options on the list of fruit trees above, decide which size tree will work best for your space. For urban areas, small fruit trees are probably the most sensible.

  • Standard fruit trees need a fair amount of space and are a good choice if you’re hoping for high branches that will provide shade.
  • Semi-dwarf trees are great for incorporating into a garden bed as a visually upright specimen.
  • Dwarf varieties are great if you’re an urban gardener. Plant them directly in the ground or in pots.
  • Super dwarf trees are great for really tight spaces like apartment balconies. There are not as many choices available in this miniature size, unfortunately.

Choosing a dwarf tree variety will not impact the size of the fruit. A dwarf tree doesn’t mean a smaller apple; it just means that the size of the tree itself (and thus the quantity of fruit) will be reduced. They’re ideal when growing fruit trees in pots. This is done by grafting various fruit varieties onto a rootstock that produces small trees.

Growing fruit trees in pots

If you want to add a tree to a patio area or need to be able to move certain warm weather varieties inside for the winter, growing fruit trees in pots might be the solution. Dwarf and super-dwarf varieties are the best option for growing in containers. The trees stay small and compact.

Choose your container

A 10-15 gallon container will work for most dwarf varieties and is a good size if you need to move your tree. A half oak barrel will give the roots a bit more space to spread out, but can be heavy to move. Be sure your container has a hole or two in the bottom so excess water can drain. Grow bags (the largest size) would be another good option.

Soil and fertilizer

Choose a good quality potting soil. Your potted urban fruit tree will be growing in a confined space; make sure it’s as healthy as possible. Fertilize your tree every couple of weeks during the growing season with compost or manure tea. I like to spray fruit trees with liquid kelp every few weeks, too. See more about planting bare root fruit trees here.

Adding fruit trees to an edible landscape

Adding a fruit tree or two to your yard or garden is pretty easy, but there are a couple of things you should think about before diving in and landscaping with fruit trees.

Chill hours

Basically, fruit trees need cold weather to triggering flowering (and thus fruiting). Some varieties need more than others. In my not-so-chilly region, I have to seek out fruit trees that are “low chill” varieties. You’ll need to determine how many chill hours (the average number of hours below 45 degrees Fahrenheit) you get each winter.


In order for fruit to set and grow to maturity, the blossom needs to be pollinated. This is why it’s so important to encourage bees and other pollinators in your garden by planting flowers or creating a hospitable environment. This goes for garden crops as well as fruit trees. Bees carry pollen from one bloom to another, helping to pollinate each.

Fruit trees are sometimes self-fertile, meaning that pollination can happen with just a single tree. This is most common with stone fruit like peaches, nectarines, and apricots. Others require cross-pollination between two trees. Choose two trees within in the same species that bloom at the same time and plant them within 50 feet of each other.


Be sure to situate your small fruit trees in an area that won’t be negatively impacted by dropping fruit. Likewise, be sure that you take maintenance into consideration when landscaping with fruit trees. You’ll need access to prune and harvest your crop!

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