Fruit Trees in the Garden

The New Year marks the season for planting bare root roses and fruit trees. What inspires you to add a fruit tree to your garden? Perhaps you have an excellent location for a tree, plus the need for a visual feature. Or, you have fond memories of fruit tree blossoms in the spring, and want to recreate the scene. Or, best of all, you would enjoy eating a favorite fruit from a tree in your own garden.

These are all good reasons for visiting your local garden center to choose a bare root fruit tree for the New Year. Dwarf varieties are readily available, so just about all gardens will have enough space for a new tree.

Preparations begin with site selection. As the first consideration, the site should have good exposure to sunlight, with eight hours per day being preferred.

Also, consider the appearance of the tree as a feature in the landscape. Visualize it as a full-grown specimen from all angles to confirm that it will always be an asset and not obstruct a viewshed or a pathway.  There should be easy access for cultivating and harvesting,

When space is limited, consider an espaliered tree. A side yard with southern exposure could be a great location for an espaliered tree.

The step is choosing the particular fruit for your garden, based on personal preferences. As with many other plants, the Monterey Bay area provides a fine climate for a wide range of fruit trees.

A first priority should be to select a fruit that you will enjoy eating, but as with other garden choices, consider unfamiliar varieties that are not commonly available.

An important issue is the tree’s chill requirement, which is measured by the number of hours of temperatures below forty-five degrees. Apple and pear trees, for example, need more chill hours than peach trees, and fig trees require only a few hours. Garden centers will offer only trees that are suitable for growing in the local area, while mail order nurseries will list trees for all areas.

For more information:

Seminar: All About Fruit Trees, Saturday, February 16, 10:00 – 11:00, Griggs Nursery, 9220 Carmel Valley Road.

Short Course: From Planting to Harvest, February 8–10, UCSC Farm and Garden. For information, visit Brown Paper Tickets.

Book: Fruit Trees in Small Spaces: Abundant Harvests from Your Own Backyard, by Colby Eirman (Timber Press, 2012)

Garden Center. The McShane’s Nursery website offers a detailed list of available trees and other related information.

Non-profit Organization: The California Rare Fruit Growers provides extensive advice on fruit tree selection and cultivation.

Planting a bare-root fruit tree would be a positive step into the New Year, and the beginning of years to enjoy future harvests in your garden.


For details on chill requirements for various fruit trees…and much more…visit the University of California website, The California Backyard Orchard. 

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