Fruiting trees can be a great investment for your garden. They will keep producing fruit for years to come, and can be fantastic not only for you but also for local wildlife. There are fruit trees suitable for all sorts of gardens, large and small. What is more, one of the great things about fruit trees is that, once they are established, as long as you give them the right conditions, they can require surprisingly little work.
Unlike annual fruits and vegetables, fruiting trees are usually grown from saplings, or small trees, rather than from seed. This means that they can be an easy choice, perfect for those with less gardening experience. They’re also a good choice for those who do not have the time to spend hours planting and tending edible plants.
Trees are obviously great for the environment – helping to sequester carbon and reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. They can also be great for you and your family, and for local wildlife.
It’s clear, then, that fruit trees are an excellent choice for most gardens. But how do you choose fruiting trees for your garden? Read on to learn more about what you should consider, and the different things that you should think about when selecting one.
How to Choose Fruiting Trees for Your Particular Garden
The first thing to remember when choosing a fruiting tree for your garden is that no one tree will suit every location. The trees that will be suitable for a coastal garden in the south, for example, will be very different to the trees that will be best for a mountain garden further north. You will need to consider:
- How much sunlight there is in the location you want to place your tree in.( When during the day and during the year the site is in sunshine or in shade.)
- Whether the location is sheltered, or exposed, and the wind direction.
- The rainfall experienced in the area, and whether it gets waterlogged or is very dry.
- The type, fertility level and pH of the soil on the site.
- How much space there is for the tree to grow into. (Make sure you also know how large your chosen tree will grow to be.) You will also need to decide whether you will be growing your fruiting trees in containers, or in the ground.)
The other trees and plants already growing in your garden, or in your neighbours gardens or the surrounding neighbourhood will give you some clues about the fruiting trees that might do well in the location.
When you are looking for fruiting trees to buy, it is best to select options that were grown as locally as possible. That way, the trees you select should be best suited to the general growing conditions and climate where you live. If you are in doubt, staff at a garden centre or plant nursery should be able to steer you in the right direction.
How To Choose Fruiting Trees for You and Your Family
As well as considering which fruiting trees might grow well in your particular garden, you should also be sure to think about you and your family. You should consider:
- How much time you have to tend, prune and harvest your fruit tree. (For example, fruit trees that are grown in containers will require more time for watering, and may need to be brought inside or under cover during the winter months.)
- Which fruits you and your family actually like to eat. (And how many you might be able to get through. Will you eat the fruit fresh, or spend time preparing it or cooking it?)
It is also worthwhile bearing in mind that a fruiting tree can serve a range of different functions. In addition to providing its edible yield, a fruit tree can also provide other things for you and your family. For example, a fruiting tree might:
- Provide shade on hot summer’s days.
- Create (once mature) a natural ‘climbing frame’ for kids, or a support for a rope, swing or hammock.
- Offer fuel (from pruned branches, which could be used to supplement wood used in a wood burning stove. Apple wood, for example, has a lovely smell and burns well.)
- Provide a natural fertiliser for your garden. (Leaves which fall in autumn can be used to make leaf mould or added to your compost heap to feed your garden soil.)
How To Choose Fruiting Trees for Wildlife
Fruit trees do not only provide a number of things for human beings. They can also provide food, shelter etc. for the wildlife that visits or lives in your garden. Just five fruiting trees can provide as much nectar for pollinators as an acre of meadow! So when choosing your fruit tree, you might also like to think about how a particular tree can help your garden wildlife.
By helping your garden wildlife, you are also helping yourself and your family. When you have a good range of beneficial wildlife in your garden, it will be much,much easier to grow your own food.
The Best Fruiting Trees For a Temperate Climate
There are a wide range of fruiting trees that could be considered for a temperate climate garden. Options include:
- apple trees (eating apples, cooking apples and crab apples)
- plum trees (and their relatives, damsons and gages)
- cherry trees (both sweet and sour varieties)
- pear trees
- quince trees
- medlar trees
- mulberry trees
All of the above can grow happily outside in the climate in most of the UK.
If you can provide a little protection for your trees (or grow them in containers and move them inside or undercover in winter), you could also consider:
- peach trees
- apricot trees
- fig trees
- citrus trees (lemons, limes, etc..)
These are just some of the top options to consider. If you want to forage berries from your trees, you could also consider growing elder and blackthorn – two common hedgerow trees that produce edible fruits.
Tips for Buying Fruiting Trees
The above should help you gain some idea of the fruiting trees that you could choose for your garden. But when buying fruiting trees, there are a number of other things that you should consider.
First of all, it is important to understand that the fruiting trees that you buy are generally grafted plants. This means that the roots of one tree (called the rootstock) have been attached to the top section (scion) of another variety. The rootstock that is chosen affects the size and vigour of the tree that you will get.
Understanding rootstocks means that you can choose trees that will reach the right size for your garden. While opting for the right scion will mean that you get fruits that meet your tastes and your needs. There are rootstocks available for many of the main types of fruiting tree. There are dwarfing rootstocks, semi-dwarfing rootstocks, and rootstocks for standard sized trees.
When it comes to choosing a fruit tree, it is not enough to decide that you want to grow a certain type of fruit. You also need to think about which varieties of that fruit you might like to grow. One variety of apple, for example, can vary considerably from another.
Apple varieties for dessert apples that you might like to consider include:
- James Grieve
- Cox’s Chiver’s Delight
- Egremont Russet
Apple varieties for cooking apples that are highly regarded include:
- Emneth Early
- Lane’s Prince Albert
- Golden Noble
These are just some of the excellent examples out there. Doing some research on the best varieties of a certain type of fruit tree for you and your garden can help you to make sure that you make the right choice. Again, speaking with experts in a local garden centre or plant nursery could help to steer you in the right direction. You could also speak with gardening neighbours, to find out what varieties they have, and how well they have fruited in your area.
When to Buy & Plant
It is best to buy and plant fruiting trees over the dormant period, between autumn and early spring. Though you can also pick up fruit trees in containers at other times of the year.
When you do get your tree or trees, and are planting them in the ground, you would be best to do so as soon as possible, so as to reduce the negative impact on the tree’s roots.