Everything You Need To Know About Growing Fruit and Nut Trees

By: albertaarb - July 22, 2014

Growing fruit and nut trees is like creating a produce department in your own backyard. Following these simple guidelines will make it easy to choose, plant and maintain a backyard orchard you can be proud of.

Sourcing Your Trees

When purchasing trees from the Internet, choose trees that thrive in your zone by checking a Plant Hardiness Zone map from Natural Resources Canada. You can also check your local provincial agricultural extension service for more recommendations on trees for your area.

Alternatively, visit a local nursery. This way, you can be assured that the fruit and nut trees are well suited to your particular climate. When sourcing trees, remember that:

  • Fruit trees should be two years old and two to four feet tall.
  • Nut trees should be three to four years old and six to eight feet tall.
  • Smaller, branch-less trees grow more vigorously and start growing sooner.

Securing Proper Drainage for Growing Fruit and Nut Trees

Good drainage is essential to your trees' growth. Without it, they cannot absorb the soil nutrients that they need in order to grow. Test an area in your yard for drainage using the following steps.

  • During cool weather when the soil is wet, dig a hole eight inches wide and 32 inches deep.
  • Fill the hole with seven gallons of water.
  • Wait 48 hours.

If the hole drains within an hour, your yard has near-perfect drainage. Anything between eight and 48 hours is acceptable. If the hole is not drained after 48 hours, you will have extreme difficulty planting a successful crop there and the tree will ultimately need to be removed. If poor drainage is unavoidable, plant trees in elevated rows or ridges 10 to 12 inches high.


Young trees that you purchase have already lost about half of their root system from being dug up, so it is important to re-balance the tree's top-growth to compensate for root loss before planting. Trim fruit trees back 18 to 24 inches, and trim nut trees 42 inches. Also when planting, remember to:

  • Plant your trees in the winter or early spring
  • Prune away any dead or mangled roots
  • Soak tree roots in a bucket of water for one hour prior to planting to encourage good moisture uptake
  • Plant them in a hole about two feet wide and one-and-a-half feet deep
  • Make sure that the roots are no more than two inches beneath the surface soil. Otherwise, they will suffocate
  • Apply mulch to hold in moisture and help control weeds
  • Plant trees in the sunlight for maximum production

Caring for Your Trees

Trees should start bearing fruit within one year after they are planted. To encourage the long-term health of your plants:

  • Keep roots moist and free of weeds, especially during the first two years
  • Occasionally apply nitrogen and fertilizer
  • Discourage forked branches and weak crotches with regular pruning

With these tips in mind, you are well on your way to growing fruit and nut trees that beautify your lawn and delight your taste buds for years to come.

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