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Archive date:  March 22, 2001

Fruit Trees in the Home Landscape

It's Fun and Fruitful!

Growing fruit trees in the home garden can be very fun, interesting and often times challenging. There is usually a place for a few fruit trees in any home landscape, even on smaller lots. When the lot is really small the trees can be incorporated right into the landscape rather than orchard style plantings. Where space is limited, dwarf varieties are available and can be planted in bed areas or even in containers. Fruit trees can be espaliered (trained to grow against a wall, a high fence, or a trellis) as well. The primary rule of thumb is to make certain the trees are placed in full sun.

Apple trees can easily be espaliered. When kept in tree form, apples should be pruned with the trunk forking about 4 to 6 feet above the ground. This will make the branches hang low for easier harvesting. Some popular varieties of apples are ‘Yellow Delicious’, Dwarf ‘Granny Smith’, and Dwarf ‘Red Delicious’.

Pear trees, especially dwarf varieties such as ‘Bartlett’ and ‘Kieffer’, are an excellent addition to the landscape. They are easy to train and are attractive even in the winter.

Peach trees are one of the most popular home grown fruit trees. Peaches taste best when tree ripened, so the time and effort required to keep the bugs off and the birds away is well rewarded. Some excellent varieties are dwarf ‘Belle of Georgia’, dwarf ‘Elberta’, ‘Redhaven’, ‘Bonfire’, and ‘Leprechaun’.

Cherry trees are divided into two main groups, the ‘sweet’, dessert (Prunus avium) and the ‘sour’, culinary (Prunus cerasus); a third group, the ‘Duke’ cherries, form an intermediate class. The sweets are subdivided into the ‘black’ and ‘white’ varieties. Cherries that perform well in this area are ‘Northstar’ (sour), ‘Bing’ (black sweet), and ‘Montmorency’ (sour). 'Bing' acts as an excellent pollenator.

Plums are popular for cooking, jam making and bottling or canning; the sweeter varieties are among our most delicious dessert fruits. Japanese plums are what generally pops into mind when envisioning a plum. They have relatively large, soft, and juicy fruit, often tart near the pit. Varieties used in this area are ‘Santa Rosa’, ‘Methley’, and ‘Burbank’. All plums set fruit best with a pollenator. ‘Santa Rosa’ acts as a good pollenator for ‘Burbank’.

Links for Fruit Tree Care

National Gardening - How to get young trees off to a good start and keep mature trees productive

University of Tennessee Extension Service – Home Tree Fruit Plan

University of Tennessee Extension Service – Landscaping with Fruit

University of Tennessee Extension Service – Pruning Neglected Fruit Trees