Adding Fruit Trees to your Landscape Design

As the Apple Orchard Manager at Arbor Day Farm, I often get questions about how to create a fruit orchard in a home or landscape setting.   There are several items that you should consider to make sure you find a tree that is right for you.

Buy Apple Tree

Determine the Right Fruit Tree for your landscape

Step 1: When choosing a fruit tree in your yard or home, the first consideration is the growing zone in which you live.

Step 2: Next you need to do a sight analysis. Take in to consideration the amount of space available, shade patterns, and competition for water and nutrients. Most fruit trees require full sun. Note: When planting fruit trees in your yard, plant trees in areas that receive as little shade as possible from neighboring trees. This will also reduce competition of water and nutrients, maximizing the production potential of your tree.

The amount of space available will dictate the mature size of the tree that you plant.  If space is limited, consider planting trees that are grafted to dwarf or semi- dwarf fruit trees or rootstock.

Dwarf fruit trees may reach a height of 6- to 10-feet.  Dwarf Fruit Tree Spacing

Semi-dwarf fruit trees may reach 10- to 15-feet in height.  Semi Dwarf Fruit Tree Spacing

Standard fruit trees can reach 25 plus feet in height.  Standard Fruit Tree Spacing

Step 3: When selecting fruit, choose the ones  you and your family will enjoy. Planting, caring for, and picking fruit can be a fun and educational activity for your family. Proper choices will increase you families fruit consumption and teach them health values they will carry into adulthood. This will also teach them where their food comes from.

Free Helpful Online Tool: A good online guide to help you select a fruit tree is the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Wizard.

Purchasing your fruit trees

When planting fruit trees, it is advisable to plant two or more varieties to maximize pollination. These varieties need to be of the same bloom period and of different variety. Example: Plant a Jonathan next to a golden Delicious.

Choose a reputable nursery for your plant material. Local nurseries and county extensions also can recommend what fruit types will grow in your area as well as give you tips and cultural practices to ensure the success of your planting.   The online Tree Wizard also is a great guideline for helping you to select a tree and the Arbor Day Foundation has a wide selection of inexpensive fruit trees.

After you plant your trees

It is important to scout or monitor for insects and disease starting at bud break all the way through harvest.  There are organic Pheromones available that disrupt insect mating patterns, reducing insect pressure and damage of your fruit.  In extreme cases or if threshold levels are met, chemical application may be required in order to achieve high quality fruit.

Happy planting and enjoy your new home orchard.

Erik Olson, Arbor Day Farm Orchard Manager

Eric Olson

Orchards Manager at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska. I invite you to come visit Arbor Day Farm and Lied Lodge it is one of Nebraska's Best Weekend Getaways


  1. Hi, I just received a Pomagranate tree. Is there anything I should know about planting and/or taking care of this tree?
    It’s about 18″ to 2′ feet tall.

  2. I was wondering if you could explain fire blight and when is it time to get rid of the trees. I have 2 crabs and one full size apple. The arborist cut out the fireblight with sterilized cutters last year plus sprayed. They also sprayed and tapped them this year and the blight is back. They advise cutting do to cancerous growth which allow blight back in when it rains. Does this sound right?

  3. Fire blight is a bacterial disease that damages apple and pear trees. It affects blossoms, fruits, fruit spurs, twigs, and entire tree branches. On occassion, the entire fruit tree may be killed by this disease. Once we know where you live we’ll share some additional resources.

  4. A copper spray applied at the 1/4-inch green tip stage may reduce the amount of inoculum on the outer surfaces of infected trees. At bloom, antibiotic sprays are highly effective against the blossom blight phase of the disease. These sprays are critical because effective early season disease control often prevents the disease from becoming established in an orchard.

  5. I would like to ask you why my redbud tree has so many pods I guess you would call it, why is that? Could there be something wrong with it? Also I would like to know if there are seed in them and if so how can I plant them because I love my tree it’s beautiful!!! No has it in my development and it stands out. Can you help me? Thank you

    -Janet Bedo from

  6. I recently received a dwarf orange tree as a gift. The previous owner kept the tree indoors during the winter, then in the summer months, put it outside on the deck for full sunlight. What care do I need to consider for transplanting this tree?

  7. I just rec’d my dwarf fruit trees, in the tree planting guide it say “Be sure to plant dwarf trees with the graft-union above the ground, otherwise the dwarfing rootstock will be canceled out.” I have no idea how to know what the grafting union would look like to make sure I do this. Please help!

  8. I have 2 apple trees in my upper back yard and 3 peach trees in my lower back yard (all are different varieties). They are shaded in the morning by my house and garage but get plenty of afternoon sun. My apple trees have been fruiting but the fruits are always small and unusable so I would like to know what kind of fertilizer to put on them and when I should be applying it & where? My peach trees have fairly large fruits but the seem to rot at the stem just before being ready to pick. Should I be applying something, how and when and should I be fertilizing?

  9. Virginia…what can you tell us about the apple trees in your yard? Do you know the apple variety names, and what rootstock they are on (dwarf, semi dwarf, full size tree), age of the trees, and where you live?

  10. Pingback: When You’ve Selected Which Type Of Fruit Tree You Want To | Green Grow Box

  11. I live in Grayson Co. TX – we have several fruit trees but i am asking about my pear tree, we had hundreds of pears on it this past year and i think the racoons ate all of them. One day they were all there and the next they were all gone. What should i do? We live on 20 acres.Thanks

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