How Far Apart Should I Plant Fruit Trees?

Cold Hardy Fruit Trees and Plants
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One of the most asked questions by fruit tree growers is how far apart should I plant my trees? Let’s look at recommended spacing, what it means, and how you can grow all the fruit you want right in your backyard by planning correctly.  Check out more 

Organic Fruit Growing tips on our blog.

how do you want to harvest your fruit?

One of our neighbors bought a pear tree many years ago. They waited and waited for years to get fruit. 

(Seriously, pears are VERY slow to bear if you don’t know how to make them produce.) 

In the meantime, the tree grew and grew. Now the tree is so large they can’t harvest anything. 

They didn’t plan on how they were going to harvest. I don’t think they even knew that they needed to.

Since the tree they chose did not match their vision for harvesting, it is now a nuisance tree. Squirrels eat half the pears and throw the remnants all over the lawn. Not much ever gets harvested by people and it is a shame because they are pretty good pears.

(It’s the spindly looking tall one in the middle of the photo)

Avoid this fate! Plan your orchard BEFORE you even buy 1.

Overgrown Pear Tree

If you want to be able to walk around every tree and have full access to the branches like in a Pick Your Own orchard:

    • You want a smaller tree
    • You want to plant your trees at the minimum spacing recommended for their rootstock.

If you’d like a more natural, food forest style ecosystem, then you can layer your trees and shrubs like you see in wild areas. 

This is how we grow our Simple, Natural, And Poison-Free orchard. 

Rootstock and recommended spacing

Fruit trees are normally grown by grafting a named variety of fruit onto a known variety of root. When the tree heals, it is fused together and makes a grafted fruit tree.

  • Rootstock is the root type that the tree is grown on. 
  • Scion is the know variety grafted to this root.

Most trees have a full-size and a semi-dwarf size. Apples also have dwarf and extreme dwarf. Most dwarfing rootstocks for all trees make the tree more vulnerable to cold. Since we work primarily in cold hardy trees, we are not going to recommend them without caution. You can read more information about Rootstock on our information page.

Apple tree spacing

Dwarf rootstockdo not do well with root plants near their roots.

Bud 9 – Minimum of 4 feet from other trees and shrubs.

G935 – Minimum of 8 feet from other trees and shrubs.

G30 – Minimum of 10 feet from other trees and shrubs.

Semi-dwarf rootstock

M7 – Recommended spacing of 14 feet. 

M26 – Recommended spacing of 14 feet. Can handle some health

M106 – Recommended spacing of 14 feet. If you’re Zone 4 or warmer, this one will handle some co-planting.

M111 – Recommended spacing of 14 feet, most capable semi-dwarf of handling root competition. Easy to underplant

Full-sized Rootstock

Antonovka – Recommended spacing of 20 plus feet. Very capable of handling roots from other trees and shrubs. 

Bud 118 – Recommended spacing 25-30 feet. Deep roots so it can handle root competition.

plum tree spacing

Plum Rootstock Grid

Full-sized Rootstock

Myrobalan 29c – Recommended spacing of 12-15 feet.

Prunus Americana – Recommended spacing of  12-15 feet.

Mustand – Recommended spacing of 15 feet.

Marianan 2624 – Recommended spacing of 15 feet.

Semi-dwarf Rootstock

St. Julian A – Recommended spacing of 10 feet.

Pear Tree Spacing

Semi-dwarf Rootstock

OHxF 333 – Recommended spacing of 15 to 17 feet.

OHxF 87 – Recommended spacing of 14 feet.

Full-sized Rootstock

OHxF 97 – Recommended spacing of 20 feet.

Pyrus betulifolia – Recommended spacing of 25-30 feet.

Pyrus ussuriensis – Recommended spacing of  20 to 35 feet.

peach tree spacing

Peach Rootstock Size Grid-3

Peaches are small trees, coming in at 12 to 15 feet full-size. Dwarfing peach rootstocks are not cold hardy and we do not offer them at all.

Krymsk 86 – Recommended spacing of  15 feet.

Seedling rootstock – Recommended spacing of 15 feet.

cherry tree spacing

Semi-dwarf Rootstock

Gisela 5 – Recommended spacing of 10 feet.

Gisela 6 – Recommended spacing of 12 feet.

Krymsk 5 – Recommended spacing of 14 feet.

Full-sized Rootstock

Mahaleb – Recommended spacing of 15 feet.

Mazzard – Recommended spacing of  20-25 feet.

plan your planting

With the spacing information, take a look at the area you want to plant in. Let’s look at the Food Forest Layers.

Start with your biggest trees first and create your “skeleton”. These should be the first trees you plant and all your other plants should work with these trees.

Then add in your second tallest plants and give them room to spread and enough light to produce good, sweet fruit.

Now you know where you can place your shrubs and naturally dwarfing trees like sour cherries. Give them more room than you think they need, they like good airflow and sunlight too. 

Your perennial ground cover, like comfrey and yarrow, are excellent space holders for growing woody plants. They also attract in pollinators early in the growing process.  

Use the spaces that are left while these perennial plants are young to grow annual crops.

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