Selecting Fruit Trees for Smaller Yards

Experienced in a variety of industries, John Sulzbach of Killingworth, CT, received his state arborist’s license in 2013. John Sulzbach currently serves as founding owner of the Killingworth, CT-area tree care company Proper Tree.

Home orchards are accessible to nearly anyone with a backyard, even those who do not have large open spaces or live in year-round warm climates. Fruit trees do depend on an adequate amount of sunlight, however, so it is important for the grower to find a place where the tree can receive at minimum of eight hours in direct light. Fruit trees tend to thrive away from the shadow of buildings or other trees and should be well way from power lines or any other structure that would require limiting the trees’ growth.

Orchard growers in cooler climates tend to have the most success with hardy trees, such as apples, pears, and American plums. These same growers can also do well with peaches and apricots, provided that they plant such trees in a south-facing area where the blooms are less susceptible to frost. When in doubt, the orchard owner can check his or her USDA hardiness zone to gauge what trees would grow best.

Variety is important, as a broader range of fruits will give the orchard owner a longer growing season. Growers with smaller yards can still plant several different types of fruit if they adhere to close-growing techniques, such as hedgerow and two to four trees per hole. Dwarf and semi-dwarf trees may also help the grower to maximize space, while keeping growth at a responsible level.

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