How Far Apart to Plant Fruit Trees [7+ Fruit Tree Spacing Tips]

how far apart should you grow fruit trees

Whether you’ve got a small backyard food garden or several acres of real estate to play with, the temptation is always to cram in as many edible crops as possible!

But when it comes to fruit trees, how many can you fit in your yard?

To figure this out, we need to know how far apart we can plant fruit trees! The fruit tree transplanting range will depend on several factors, so it is best to have your plan figured before springing for a load of new trees!

Luckily, there are some clever and creative ways we can fit more fruit trees into our yards. Let’s take a look at how to plant a fruit orchard.

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What Happens If You Plant Fruit Trees Too Close Together?

citrus fruit tree rows
You may find that many citrus orchards plant their citrus trees in relatively tight formations! Most homesteaders and farmers I know prefer to give their citrus trees at least 15 feet of space – though some may be slightly more or less depending upon the orchard’s layout and citrus cultivar.

Nothing good!

Your fruit trees must have enough air, light, and water if you want them to grow a bountiful fruit crop!

When trees grow too close together, they will compete for water, oxygen, and other nutrients. If your trees are too tightly bound – you may need advanced irrigation! As they grow, the canopy of each tree will expand.

The thick fruit tree canopy may reduce light and air around the base and branches of the tree. Overly crowded tree canopies can cause fungal diseases and will also reduce the overall crop of each tree.

There’s another problem with planting fruit trees too close together! When it comes to harvest time, you won’t be able to access the fruit!

Read More – 7 DIY Strawberry Planter Ideas for the Best Garden Strawberries!

Can You Plant Different Fruit Trees Next to Each Other?

honey bee enjoying pollen flower
Apple trees usually attract more honey bees than you can handle! But – if you’re launching a garden and fruit tree from scratch, I always recommend a healthy layer of wildflowers in addition to your baby tree to help attract as many honeybees and pollinators as possible!

As long as they are suitable for your climate, all types of fruit trees will grow well together. It is often beneficial to interplant varying species of trees, as this can reduce the likelihood of disease and may also invite helpful pollinators.

When planning your fruit trees, remember that some types of fruit will need one or more varieties for pollination. Others, such as avocado trees and kiwi vines, may require a male and a female to pollinate.

How Many Feet Apart Should You Plant Fruit Trees?

fruit trees growing in cold snowy climate
If you’re planting fruit trees in cold New England climates, you may be able to get away with giving your fruit trees slightly less room as they have shorter growing seasons. In southern and warmer regions – the fruit trees may stretch out more and demand more space. Plan accordingly!

The distance between fruit trees depends on the type and the rootstock of each tree!

Standard rootstock fruit trees grow up to 18 to 25 feet tall/wide. The exception to this is peach and nectarine trees, which grow to about 12 to 15 feet.

The distance between standard fruit trees depends on the type of tree. Apples will need planting at least 30 feet apart, while pear trees can be a bit closer at 20 feet apart.

Semi-dwarf rootstock fruit trees reach a more manageable 12 to 15 feet in height and width. So, if you’re looking to fit more trees into a smaller space, a semi-dwarf rootstock is a more sensible option.

Switching your apples and pears to a semi-dwarf rootstock variety means you can plant them 15 feet apart. 

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How Far Apart Should Small Fruit Trees Be Planted?

fruit tree pears closeup
Pear trees grow surprisingly large – especially compared to other fruit trees. They also produce a ton of fruit! Try giving your pear trees plenty of space to develop – offer around 25 feet per pear tree.

If you’re short of space, there are some other ingenious ways to fit more fruit trees into a small space:

  • Dwarf Fruit Trees

Dwarf fruit trees graft onto a rootstock! The graft limits its size to 8 to 10 feet tall. Their limited height means they are small enough to be planted in large pots without taking up too much space in your yard.

  • Multi-variety Fruit Trees

Some specialist plant nurseries sell fruit trees where more than one variety gets grafted onto the same rootstock. So, just one small tree might bear several different types of fruit – incredibly ingenious space-saving!

  • Cordon Fruit Trees

Cordon trees are dwarf trees grown as a single stem, with all the fruit borne directly adjacent to this stem. Their growing style means you can plant many fruit trees in a line, as little as 2-3 feet apart! You won’t get a large yield from each tree, but you do have the option to plant many more different varieties of trees with this method.

  • Fruiting Hedgerow

Hedges don’t just have to be for keeping livestock in! Planting a fruiting hedgerow can give you an abundance of fruit throughout the summer and fall! You can also count on providing shelter and excellent wildlife habitat.

This method means you can have heftier trees, such as apples and pears, interplanted with berries and other fruits! It might not be the easiest to prune, but it will be buzzing with happy pollinators when the spring blossom bursts into life!

Read More – Our Epic Spaghetti Squash Growing Guide!

Fruit Trees Spacing Without Stress

There’s one more tip that I need to share.

Watch out for hungry bunnies!

Rabbits and deer love to nibble on baby fruit trees. I’m not saying to harm the rabbits or deer. But – keep your eyes open and shoo them away if needed!

You can also get a tree scarf for your young developing fruit tree.

Once your baby tree develops for a few seasons – they’ll grow much heftier and thicker. Before long – bunnies and deer won’t be able to harm them in the least!

Thanks so much for reading this fruit tree spacing guide – and let us know if you have questions, feedback, or fruit tree growing tips!

Read More – How to Save Pumpkin Seeds for Planting Next Year, From Fruit to Vine!
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