While converting yards into gardens is becoming more and more acceptable, it’s usually some version of raised beds and walking paths. The gardens growing are somewhat nontraditional models — no tilled rows, no monocultures — but still with fairly traditional crops. Most home gardens seem to be composed of a healthy mix of annual crops, a la grandma’s garden out back.
For some reason, trees rarely make it into the mix. But, they should. They are a great addition to edible lawns, as well as conventional lawns. In fact, while some HOAs and local governments ban gardens in the front yard, a few fruit trees typically aren’t a problem. After all, trees beautify and raise property values. Planting trees is usually a good thing for everyone.
In the case of edible landscapes, fruit trees are a great thing. So why plant fruit trees?
Long-term food production with minimal maintenance
Fruit trees are perennial plants that typically live for at least a couple of decades and, in some cases, close to a century. In terms of food production, this is fantastic news because trees don’t require nearly as much attention as raised bed gardens. So, planting fruit trees provides tons of food (literally) over the years. Some trees begin to bear in as little as a couple of years.
Huge harvests with less square footage
Another great part about growing fruit trees is that those huge harvests, the literally tons of food, comes from a reasonably small footprint. A dwarf apple tree fits in a space smaller than most raised beds (they can even be grown in containers) and, when mature, can produce over 500 apples in a season. That’s a crazy amount of food for one little tree. Of course, semi-dwarf and full-sized trees produce much more.
A size for every need
With fruit trees, there is a size for every need. Because they have been so carefully cultivated over the years, there are varieties that are small enough to grow happily on the patio, and there are varieties (of the same fruit no less) that can eventually be enormous shade trees, a la Isaac Newton and the discovery of gravity. If big trees are already around, semi-dwarfs are perfect for working into their understory. The right size is there to find.
Beautiful (and productive) trees for the yard
Of course, fruit trees are also beautiful. The flowers normally bloom out in spring and provide an amazing array of colors, especially pink and white. The fragrance is alluring wafting through neighborhood streets. In the summer, the fruit hangs and glistens in the sun, adding notable color amongst the foliage. They are worth planting just for the ornamental qualities, but it is a great bonus to eat fruit, isn’t it?
The flowers and the trees are great for the birds and the bees
In addition to the trees being beautiful, all those flowers and fruits attract loads of birds, bees, and butterflies, which only enhance the beauty. Fruit trees are great perches for songbirds to sit in and snack. The flowering helps bees gather pollen. They are just great for ecosystems, and in fact, many become sustainable ecosystems in and of themselves.
How to Plant Fruit Trees
Finding the right spot is the key to planting On the whole, fruit trees are going to want full sun (6-8 hours a day) in order to produce at their best. They also like to have enough space for air to flow around them. It’s important to give them the right place to set their roots.
Choose the Right Tree
Not all types of fruit trees thrive in all environments. For example, citrus trees will struggle in colder climates and will be relegated to containers that can be moved indoors during the winter. Conversely, cherry trees aren’t going to dig the heat of Florida. Choosing a good tree for the local climate makes growing them easier. Sometimes different varieties of a particular fruit will do better in specific climates.
Plant It Well
In general, when planting any tree, it’s best to dig a hole that’s roughly twice as wide as the root ball of the plant but just deep enough to get the base of the trunk to ground level. The trees should be bought and planted when dormant (before there are leaves or flowers). Finally, once in the ground, all grass should be removed from around the trunk (at least a couple of feet), and the area should be mulched heavily.
Finally, trees will benefit from having lots of other plants around them, so it might pay to add some aromatic culinary herbs, bulbs, and berry shrubs around and between them. Rather than looking like a food garden, this will look like a lovely ornamental array, which coincidentally produces a huge amount of food.
Image Source: Pixabay