How to Start a Backyard Orchard

Not only does a fruit tree orchard provide your family with valuable home food production, it also contributes to eco-friendly living. A single tree can provide enough oxygen to keep a family of four breathing. Trees also greatly reduce CO2. Moreover, a home orchard will increase your property value because they’re great to look at and generally considered valuable. Planting and maintaining a home orchard will require considerable effort, but it’s worth it when you consider the benefits.


Choosing a Fruit Tree

You’ve got a lot of options when it comes to fruit trees. You’ll want to consider your family’s dietary needs, as well as your taste preferences. For example, cherry trees come in many different varieties, including sweet and tart. You can buy cherry trees that produce fruit you can eat from the vine or use during baking. A quality orchard company is going to offer all types of varietals and explanations of the taste and benefits each fruit provides.


Before Planting  

Before planting any trees, you’ll want to consider your site’s drainage. You can test your draining by digging a foot into your soil and then filling that hole with water. If the water drains in just a few hours, you’ve got good drainage. If it takes longer than 4 hours, you have drainage issues and should consider planting elsewhere or installing a French drain.

Spacing is highly important, as it can affect how much fruit your trees produce. In general, the further apart trees are, the bigger they can grow and the more fruit they’ll yield. If you have spacing constraints, you can plant trees as close as 18” apart. With regular spraying, thinning and pruning, you should yield a good harvest, even when trees are planted this close together. Once you’ve determined your orchard’s layout, you’re ready to plant.


Planting Your Fruit Trees

When digging holes for your trees, it’s important to consider the depth. In general, depth should be the same as it was in the nursery and this information should ship with the tree. In general, you want your hole to be slightly larger than the root. It should adequately cover the root, without bending or damaging it. You may need to prune away any roots that are rotted.

Once you’ve settled the tree into your hole, go ahead and refill the hole. Do not use fertilizer. Fertilizer can kill a bare root tree. Once the tree is stronger, you can consider fertilizer, but in the beginning it should be avoided. You can refill the hole with the soil you dug up to create it. Finally, water the tree once it’s planted. This will dampen the soil and allow it to fully
set around the roots.

Because you’re planting in your backyard, you may want your fruit trees to grow low. If so, go ahead and prune the newly planted tree to a lower height. Do not prune past the lower limbs. In general, you want at least one or two buds, but the more buds are on the limbs, the more fruit your tree will produce. Finally, you’ll want to add some mulch, as it provides both organic matter and nutrients to the plants.


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Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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