No landscape should be devoid of fruit trees. Aside from the obvious benefit of having said fruit available for consumption, fruit trees are beautiful. Few things are more attractive than an apple tree blooming in spring. The delicate blossoms fill the air with a sweet smell and look like lace decorating the branches. As the season changes and the year moves toward summer, dark green shiny leaves create the canopy providing a sanctuary for birds and other small animals.
While it is true that apple trees need some tending throughout the year, the effort is worth the returns. If you wish to harvest your fruit you will need to spray for mites and other types of pests and fungi. You will also need to invest in some nets to keep your fruit from being eaten by birds or deer. Imagine baking pies in the fall from apples you grew yourself. Or putting up jars of applesauce, knowing exactly what is in the jars, unlike the ones you pick up at the supermarket. Fruit trees, while lovely in their own right, have a fairly specific payoff.
Apples can be grown for food or beauty. If you are desire only beauty, consider planting crabapple trees instead of traditional fruit trees. With crabapple you still get the benefits of the spring bloom, but don’t need to provide the careful tending that a fruit producing tree needs. Crab apples, when large enough, can still be used for food, by the way, but generally speaking, crab apples are left for the animals.
Birds, deer, bears and squirrels are but a few of the animals that enjoy the fall production of crab apples. Crab apple trees don’t tend to grow as large as full sized apple trees, which makes them ideal for a smaller yard as well. While some folks complain about the fruit lying upon their grass after the tree goes dormant in the fall, most of that fruit will be gone by spring, eaten by animals searching for nutrition during the cold, snowy New England winter. What doesn’t get eaten decomposes, feeding the soil.
Apple trees cross pollinate, so if you do invest in apple trees and want fruit, make sure you get at least two trees and keep them close enough to each other to ensure pollination. If you don’t want fruit, but still enjoy the sight of an apple tree in spring, get only one, or space them far enough apart that pollination is unlikely; for example, one in the front yard, and one in the back. You can have the best of either world.
When planting fruit trees in New England remember that they need to be planted in the spring. Don’t plant them in waterlogged soil or they will likely succumb to some sort of fungus or rot. Pick a site with direct sunlight and leave enough room for the trees when they are fully grown. If you have deer in your area, remember that hungry deer can cause significant damage to young trees, so protect them with a fence; nothing else will work as well. Then, sit back and enjoy your annual apple tree display.
Cherry trees are magnificent fruit trees that provide four seasons of visual beauty in your landscaping. In the spring the cherry tree puts on its spectacular bloom. Come the summer you will be treated to dark green leaves and plenty of fruit. In the fall the cherry leaves turn beautiful colors and in winter the stark, frosty branches stand out against the sky. No cherry trees like wet soil, so plant in the drier areas of your yard. If you plant a row of cherry trees along a path or property edge you will be treated to a marvelous sight when the trees bloom in spring.
Growing cherry trees in New England may seem a bit odd, but the fact is that these hardy trees do very well in northern climates. Cherries come in sweet and sour varieties, and for ease of growing, sour cherries are better. Sour cherry trees will self pollinate, removing the need to have more than one tree in your yard. On the other hand, if you don’t want the fruit, a sweet cherry tree, all by itself isn’t likely to pollinate; the exception to this is the Stella cherry. If you are not interested in fruit at all you can always select a flowering cherry tree. These trees produce only blooms and fall into the ornamental category.
Tart cherry trees are hardy into the northern reaches of New England. The “Montmorency” cherry is the industry standard producing copious amounts of fruit for minimal effort. Tart cherries are particularly wonderful in pies, cobblers and preserves. If you purchase stock that is certified virus free your tree should flourish through the humid summer months and survive the cold winter very nicely.
Sweet cherry trees are susceptible to more problems than their tart cousins. They are only suitable for the southern regions of New England, but can still do well with regular care. Depending on the stock you chose some varieties are less attractive to birds and others are smaller, coming in dwarf versions. Dwarf varieties are easier to care for since you can access all parts of the tree with less effort, making spraying, covering and harvesting simpler.
Given the opportunity birds will try to share in your cherry crop. About the time you are ready to start harvesting the birds will be doing the same. The most effective way to keep the birds out of your trees is to drape them with nets. Nets for fruit trees are usually available at garden supply stores. If you can’t find them at a garden supply store you might find them at a pond supply store, they are very similar to nets used to cover koi ponds.
Including fruit trees like the cherry in your landscaping is a wonderful way to add beauty and a little something extra to your yard. While it is true that fruit trees require a bit more effort, they pay off your work tangibly. There are few things as satisfying as enjoying the fruits of your labors; literally.
Pear trees, like so many other fruit trees, make wonderful additions to your landscaping. Although New England isn’t associated with the growing of fruit trees, beyond apples, the fact is that many types of fruit trees thrive in the cooler climate. Longer, cooler springs give fruit trees time to blossom and set fruit before the hot months of summer arrive. Set in the center of a planting bed as the main feature pear trees add height and visual appeal to any yard.
Pear trees cannot be planted in the autumn in New England. The cold winters are too difficult for a newly planted tree, and you are likely to lose trees to frost and damp. Wait until the early spring when the ground has thawed and drained a bit. Dig an appropriate hole, add some plant food and center the tree inside taking care not to cover the graft site. Cover with the dirt you removed to create the hole. Bare root stock is cheapest, but small trees will produce fruit between a year or two sooner.
The Bartlett pear is particularly well adapted to the New England Climate. The cool, humid climate found up in the northern reaches of New England help this pear variety thrive where-as it does very poorly in warmer areas and is prone to blight. If you don’t succeed with the Bartlett pear don’t give up, other pears are also exceptionally good matches for New England. Check with your local gardening store. Pear trees can be trained to trellises or allowed to grow naturally, but they do need regular pruning and maintenance or they will quickly produce lots of additional small branches. If you want quality fruit you must invest some time in regular care and feeding.
Pears are best eaten out of hand, but they can be canned and made into a spread. Some people enjoy drying their pears and using them for pies or other baked goods. Birds like to next in pear trees, but aren’t likely to eat the fruit; you will have more problems with insects in this regard.
Adding fruit trees to your landscaping may seem a bit odd, but in fact, fruit trees provide at least three seasons of beauty on top of the benefit of the fruit itself. Fruit trees need to be cut back and maintained just like other trees, but the blossoms they provide each spring can’t be topped by traditional hardwood trees. As pears set in the summer the growing fruit looks so beautiful among the leaves. If you are growing a red or brown pear the startling color peeking out from below the branches adds another visual aspect to your garden. The fall brings colorful leaves and even in the winter, the sight of the branches arcing up against the sky is striking.
Incorporating fruit trees into your landscape design just makes good sense. Not only do you get to enjoy the fruit, your children have the opportunity to make the connection between trees and food. We have become so disassociated from our food production cycle; anything we do to put ourselves back in touch is a good thing.
Peach trees are usually associated with Georgia, a southern state. You can however, use peach trees when landscaping your yard, even in New England. Many varieties of peach are hardy even into the northern areas of New England. Peaches require more care than most fruit trees, but few things compare to the taste of fresh peaches.
Peach trees set blooms early in the spring. Their flowers run the gamut of colors from pink to red to stripes. If you are fortunately and the spring isn’t windy you will have many days of beautiful blooms. If, however, your spring is a windy or rainy one, the flowers will fall off prematurely. Either way the summer brings dark green, long leaves that are lovely. Of course, you also get peaches.
One of the hardest things to do if you are growing a peach tree for landscaping purposes is to cull the fruit. Estimates suggest that you want to remove up to 90% of your fruit to allow the remaining fruit to mature properly. In practical terms that translates to leaving one fruit every 8 inches, more or less. The fruit will grow larger and be more likely to ripen in time for harvesting. If fruit falls off the tree, which it is likely to do during the “June Fall” that most peaches experience, make sure to remove it unless you enjoy yellow jacket incursions.
A vase shaped pruning method is recommended for peach trees. To do this you prune out branches from the center of the tree, leaving a vee. This allows for good sun exposure in the middle of the tree and more fruit. You will also need to spray the tree for a variety of insect infestations if you want it to thrive. There are also a number of diseases that affect peach trees and need to be treated regularly. Birds love peaches just as much as you do, so net your trees if you want to keep the fruit for yourself.
The best part of having your own peach tree is what you can do with the fruit once it ripens. Peach cobbler is a summertime staple. Peaches can be canned, made into jam or, with a little work and creativity, make fabulous liquors. Of course, you can always eat them out of hand, still warm from the sun.
Adding a peach tree to a home based orchard is a wonderful choice. Most peaches will self pollinate, removing the need to invest in multiple trees just for fruit. Some varieties are reported to be ornamental, which means they don’t set fruit, but why get one then? Ornamental cherry trees are easier to manage if all you want is flowers. A small orchard with some self pollinating cherry trees, a couple of apple trees a pear tree and a peach tree is perfect for the homeowner looking to beautify their landscape and enjoy home grown fruit. If you choose dwarf rootstock you can get the whole orchard set up in a fairly small yard. Fruit trees are beautiful year round and they contribute to the landscape in so many ways.