There are three things you need to consider when choosing the best spot for your fruit trees; light, temperature & shelter, and exposure.
To ensure you get a bumper crop and to get the healthiest, tastiest fruit possible, it’s important to make sure you’ve planted your fruit trees in the right place.
Whether it’s apples, plums, pears, or cherries, there’s nothing quite like heading out into your garden and picking fresh fruit straight from the tree.
Getting the three elements right will not only help you get the best possible produce from your fruit trees but will ensure they are able to grow strong and healthy.
Below, we’ll take a look at each of these requirements in more depth to help you find that perfect space in your garden for your fruit trees.
While there are some fruits that are more than happy growing in shadier spots, these are normally fruits that grow on bushes. Most fruit trees need as much light as possible throughout the day.
South or west-facing areas are best for planting fruit trees into. This is especially important if you’re growing sun-loving fruits such as figs, peaches, nectarines, and apricots.
2. Temperature & Shelter
Lots of sunlight means higher temperatures, which is extremely important for fruit trees. However, it’s important to think about the minimum temperatures that your trees may be exposed to in the area that you plant them.
If you live in an area where the temperature falls below freezing during the winter, you’ll need to plant your fruit trees into a sheltered site. There are a couple of reasons for this.
First of all, a fruit tree that is in a sheltered position will be kept warmer by any surrounding evergreen shrubs and walls that have absorbed sunlight during the day. This minimizes the risk of them getting frost damage too, which we’ll explore in more detail later.
Secondly, a sheltered area will be much more appealing to emerging bees and other pollinating insects in the spring. These are essential for creating the fruit that follows the flowers your trees will bear in the spring.
Finally, a sheltered site means that your fruit tree will be protected from the strong winds and torrential rain that comes with winter.
The more exposed your fruit trees are to the elements, the more likely they are to suffer from frost damage throughout the winter. Frost damage can destroy blossom which doesn’t only ruin the appearance of your fruit trees but can significantly reduce fruit production.
Frost can also damage new, soft shoots on younger plants that would eventually grow into fruit-bearing branches. This is especially true for softer fruits such as plums, nectarine, and peaches.
Keeping these three factors in mind, the best place to plant fruit trees is in a sheltered position that gets a lot of sunlight during the day.
South or west-facing areas are best, as these will get prolonged periods of light and heat in the summer. They will also get more exposure to sunlight during the winter months.
Where should I plant an apple tree in my garden?
Apple trees are an excellent addition to any garden and, once established, they require very little maintenance. However, to get them to this stage, it’s important to make sure you’ve chosen the right space for them.
The best position for an apple tree would be a south or west-facing spot that gets lots of sunlight throughout the day. The soil should be nice and deep, and it should be free-draining.
One way to measure this is by pouring an entire bucket of water onto the soil. If it soaks in quickly, you know it’s free-draining. If it creates a pool of water that takes a while to drain away, you’ll need to find another spot.
If possible, it’s a good idea to plant an apple tree in a sheltered area. A spot that is surrounded by walls would be ideal, and this will protect it from frost during the winter and help maintain a high temperature throughout the summer.
Positioning your apple tree is important but, once it’s in place, there are few other things you need to do to help it to grow into a big, strong, healthy tree.
In early spring, feed your young apple tree with a liquid fertilizer that is high in potassium. This will help boost the growth of foliage, blossom, and fruit.
You also need to prune your apple tree once a year to get the best possible crop. This is best done in late autumn or winter when the tree has gone dormant. Cut the previous year’s growth by one-third. This will encourage new branches to grow in spring, which will carry more fruit.
How do you plan a fruit garden?
The first thing you need to do when planning your fruit garden is to spend a day in your garden and observing where the sun goes.
Taking the time to monitor the amount of sunlight each part of your garden gets throughout the day will make it much easier to determine which sort of fruits you are able to grow successfully.
Next, think about what types of fruit you’d like to grow. Most urban gardens are far too small to grow copious amounts of different fruits, so it’s best to keep things simple by selecting two or three varieties.
Fruit trees need lots of sunlight and a sheltered position to keep them protected from frost, wind, and rain. However, some fruit bushes, such as redcurrants and blackcurrants, are perfectly happy growing in shadier conditions.
So, if you’ve noticed that you have an area that is bathed in sunshine for most of the day, you know that you’ll be able to grow fruit-bearing trees successfully. Any shady spots that you’ve noticed would be best reserved for fruit-bearing bushes.
Planning a fruit garden is much easier than you might think, it’s just a simple case of following the old adage of “right plant, right place”.
How many fruit trees should I plant?
There is a temptation to go absolutely mad when you’re growing fruit and plant as many trees as you can get your hands on. However, doing this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get more fruit.
In fact, you could actually be reducing your yield as each tree battles for the nutrients it needs to produce its fruit.
As a general rule, it’s best to plant no more than two fruit trees directly in the ground in the average-sized garden. However, the larger your garden is, the more space you’ll have to plant fruit trees.
One way that you can plant more fruit trees into a smaller garden is to choose dwarf varieties. These will only grow to around 15-feet in height, and they are also suitable for container growing.
This means that each tree will have exclusive access to the nutrients you add to the pot through compost and liquid fertilizer.
How far should you plant fruit trees apart?
If you’re growing a couple of fruit trees in an average-sized garden, the more space you can give them the better. For smaller fruit trees you should leave a space of 3.5m - 4m between each tree. For larger, standard rootstocks, a minimum spacing of 6m - 8m is needed.
However, if you’re planting an entire orchard of fruit trees, there are two important things you need to keep in mind. These are the space between the rows and the space between trees themselves.
In this case, the ideal spacing would be 6ft between each tree and 20ft between each row. As you can see, this means that you’ll need a lot of space to grow multiple fruit trees successfully.
What happens if you plant fruit trees too close together?
There are a couple of issues that can arise when you plant fruit trees too close together. First of all, the roots of the trees will battle it out for the nutrients in the soil. This means that one of the trees will grow vigorously, while the other will be much weaker and, as such, will produce a much smaller crop.
Something else that can happen when you plant fruit trees too close together is that they will cast a huge amount of shade on anything underneath them. While there are some plants that thrive in shade (such as ferns), this does limit your under-tree planting options.
Finally, fruit trees that are planted too close together will create a canopy where very little air flow can pass through the leaves. This can lead to the growth of fungi on the trees which can inhibit fruit production and cause damage to any fruit the trees do manage to grow.
Can you plant different fruit trees next to each other?
It is possible to plant different fruit trees next to each other, but one thing you need to keep in mind is that some fruit trees require the help of a pollinator to grow fruit. These include apples, pears, and cherries.
If you want to get a good crop from your fruit trees, it’s best to plant these types of trees next to each other. This makes it much easier for bees and other pollinating insects to move from flower to flower and increases your chances of pollination occurring as they do.
Some fruit trees, however, are self-pollinating. This means that they don’t need the help of a pollinator to grow their fruit. These types of trees are perfectly fine to be planted next to each other.
Types of self-pollinating fruit trees include apricots, figs, persimmon, and most types of peaches.
Regardless of whether your fruit trees are self-pollinating or not, one of the most important things you need to be certain of is that there is enough of a space between each tree. If there isn’t, you’ll find that fruit production is reduced and your trees will not grow as vigorously as they should.
What fruit trees should be planted together?
As we’ve mentioned above, different types of fruit trees should be planted together in order to ensure cross-pollination can take place. This includes pears, cherries, and apples. There are some apple trees that are categorized as self-pollinating, however, even these benefit from the help of a pollinating insect and stand a better chance of producing fruit if planted next to each other.
This doesn’t mean that they need to be bunched together in a tight space, though. In fact, doing this will create a battle between the trees as each tries to get the most nutrients out of the soil as possible.
For smaller fruit trees, leave a 3.5m - 4m gap between each of them. Pollinating insects will still be able to find them with ease and cross-pollination will occur without each tree fighting for nutrients. Larger fruit trees should have a gap of 6m - 8m in between them.
True self-pollinating fruit trees such as figs, apricots, nectarines, and peaches don’t need to be planted together.