Crazy for Fruit Trees

Fruit trees are an ideal landscape choice in several ways: gorgeous blossoms, foliage for shade on a summer day, yummy fruit and generally great fall color. Even in winter, the bare branches of most fruit trees offer interest from the landscape.

That being said, there are a number of things to think about prior to planting. For one thing, many fruit trees need more care than other trees. You will want to manage the harvest, which from a full size mature shrub could be overwhelming, as well as hard to reach. Do you really wish to climb into the peak of a 50-foot tree? (I have always left that fruit for the birds) You’ll probably also need to deal with preventing diseases and pests,and you may want to thin overly productive trees and prop up heavy branches. Plus, these trees can occupy a lot of space.

Luckily, these issues can be lessened, or in the instance of this space hogs, completely removed. Begin by practicing good garden techniques. A good mixture of crops, an organic growing system and an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach can go a long way toward reducing pest and disease issues. The individual fruit you harvest might not be as picture perfect as those grown commercially, but it will be naturally increased and equally, or even more, tasty.

As for space, you can find dwarf and semidwarf varieties of most common fruit trees (though test on final size, as even these could be big ). Summer pruning is also a must to maintain trees . You might need to prune one longer than you normally would, but if you start when the tree is modest and keep it that way, it is not that demanded. If you wish to be elaborate, think about growing your fruit tree as an espalier or a fence. Again, the pruning may be more involved, but as soon as you’ve started, it’s easy to keep it going.

Specialty trees are also gaining in popularity. Growers have developed colonnade trees (sentinels that stand upright instead of spreading out), which are a great selection for a modern picture. There are also more and more multigraft varieties; you may wind up with several kinds of peaches or plums on a single trunk. Pick wisely and you are able to become early, mid-, and late-season varieties to prolong the fruit . Or search for trunks with several distinct fruits grafted on; they’re less common, but they’re out there.

A final benefit of smaller trees: You have only enough fruit to feed a household without needing to resort to leaving anonymous bags of fruit on your neighbor’s doorstep. But if you’re still stuck with too much fruit, then donate to the regional food bank or shelter.

Gardens & Gables

Orange and lemon trees offer welcome colour in a shaded setting, in addition to the fruit is right at hand for a hot treat on a hot day.

Shirley Bovshow

In this front-yard edible garden, the espaliered apple tree across the driveway will create a privacy fence when it leafs out. A bonus is that the fruit will be quite easy to pick — no ladders needed.

AMS Landscape Design Studios, Inc..

With judicious pruning, then your fruit trees can function as displays along a fence. Citrus trees, like those shown here, are easy to keep within bounds. For other fruit trees, you will need to employ summer pruning techniques to keep them younger. Provide enough soft surface space beneath the trees’ canopies so that any decreasing fruit will not splatter on the patio.

The Garden Consultants, Inc..

Serviceberry, also knows as juneberry and shadbush and a multitude of other names, may not be as familiar as the more popular apples, pears, peaches and cherries, but the fruit is sweet and also a great selection for pies. Bonus: showy flowers and great fall color.

Here, the trees have been trained as an allée along a side lawn. These particular trees lend themselves nicely to this usage, but other fruit trees might also be trained the same way.

Kathleen Shaeffer Design, Exterior Spaces

Citrus line this entrance, providing year-round foliage as well as fragrant blossoms and tons of fruit which can stay on the tree for some time.


Espaliering fruit trees is also an old fashioned tradition that is making a comeback. Not only does this maintain the trees in bounds (a large apple tree could overpower a small yard), but it shows off the blossoms, leaves and fruit.

Randy Thueme Design Inc. – Landscape Architecture

The sculptural shapes and grayish leaves of olives are the perfect foil for this contemporary residence. While olives can and are grown for their fruit, for most home landscapes you will most likely wish to grow the nonfruit type. Even then, they might still produce a stray fruit or two, that will stain surfaces and can readily be tracked into the home. Because of this, place olives in beds which are somewhat removed from primary pathways.

Watch the rest of this landscape

AMS Landscape Design Studios, Inc..

Most citrus, and another fruit trees, can be grown in pots, which provides you plenty of flexibility when it comes to deciding where to set them. Ask for dwarf varieties at the community nursery and search for a deep container at least 18 inches in diameter.

If you’re lucky enough to have a true orchard, make a landing pad for appreciating the view in the center of this space.

Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

If you’d rather see your orchard as a whole than sit at the center of it, here is a great solution: a large seating area for visitors that overlooks the picture’s”working space”

For more on increasing fruit trees, take a look at Fruit Trees in Tiny Spaces, by Colby Eierman (Timber Press), Landscaping with Fruit, by Lee Reich (Storey Publishing) and Edible Landscaping, by Rosalind Creasy (Sierra Club Books).

Edible Landscapes That Are Feasts for the Eyes

Citrus 101: Start Your Own Backyard Orchard

Unexpected Edible Gardens

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