Growing your own fruit trees in your back yard means that you have access to all your favourite fruits, and also have a say in how they look and taste. If done right, you could be feasting on your own rich jams, wines, ciders and pies.
However, when space is limited, those new to fruit tree harvesting can be tempted to cram their trees into a small area in an effort to get the most out of them. While it is not impossible to produce good fruit yields in this manner, there are some downsides to growing your fruit forest in this way.
Your Trees Won't Get the Air Circulation They Need
Most fruit trees take several years to mature, with the exception of citrus or fig trees which take from 1-2 years. However, if space is limited, you can't plant your trees 20-30 feet apart like commercial growers do. This means your trees and their yields could suffer.
For example, fruit trees in close proximity to each other create an almost suffocating atmosphere beneath their canopies due to the lack of air circulation. This provides diseases and fungi with the ideal habitat in which to grow and flourish.
Unless you prune your trees to give them some room, you may lose your fruit and even your trees to disease.
Their Root Systems Will Compete for Nutrients
North America's oldest fruit tree, at almost 400 years old, is the Endicott Pear Tree, planted in the mid seventeenth century. In pictures, the Endicott Pear Tree is on its own, naturally by now an American icon. It doesn't have to compete with other trees for nutrients and moisture, which is one of the reasons it has lived so long.
If you plant several trees in close proximity to each other, remember that their root systems will mirror their canopies in size. Unless you plan to prune religiously, you might be better off planting two fruit trees rather than four in a limited space. Otherwise, the weakest of the four will yield very little fruit and eventually die anyway.
Insects Will Have a Bridge to Other Trees
If you plant your fruit trees too close together, so that the branches are touching, you create a bridge via which pests and diseases can travel.
Apple Dimpling Bugs, Plague Thrips and Two Spotted Mites will use these bridges to wreak havoc on your harvest before you have a chance to enjoy it.
Hire an Arborist to Prune and Manage Your Mini-Orchard
Despite these risks, you can still have a flourishing mini fruit forest that provides your kitchen with several types of fruit each year. You will need the professional touch of an arborist or tree specialist to help you get the most out of your fruit trees each year. By pruning your fruit trees and thinning them out with an expert touch, requiring little more than half an hour per year, an arborist can ensure that your trees regularly produce high yields.
If you are struggling to get the best out of your orchard due to limited space, hire the services of an arborist to help you get started on the road to producing healthy, and high yields of fruit each year.