Help with Fruit Tree Spacing

shesalittlebearFebruary 12, 2006

After remeasuring an area that I had dedicated for fruit trees, I have come to the conclusion that I have much less space than I thought. I am looking on advice and possible solutions to dwarf tree spacing.

Below are the measurement to my space. The area is at an angle that tapers. Here is a general description of the area. To the west, there is an old would fence. To the right is a gravel walkwalk. To the north and south there will be a raised vegetable (north) and flower (south, negotiable) beds with about 40 inches clearance from the fruit trees in both directions.

The length of the area is approx 12.5'

North width=7ft

South width=8.5ft

My goal is to grow six fruit trees in this area, if possible per your advice. They will all be dwarf. One of the fruit trees (pomegranate) is in a wine barrel. I have a spare wine barrel just in case I need to move one tree tree. I had plan to grow the remainder of the trees in 3'x3'12" individual raised beds.

Here are the trees that I plan to grow:


Granada Pomegranate

Lisbon Lemon




I would like to get opinions on spacing. Can I feasibly be successful at growing all 6 trees in this space? I still have not made the raised bed to the north. If necessary I can shorten the length 2'. This will bump my growing area from 13.5ft to 15.5ft. Like I said earlier, I can possibly move two trees (pomegranate and another) to a diffrent location in wine barrels. If you think that I have more than sufficient space, please let me know. I also interested in acquiring a drawf Mandarin tree, but I really though that I was pushing my luck.

Thank you for your help.



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kuffelcreek(z5 So. Calif.)


Shoot, stick at least two more trees in there for a total of 8. The worst that can happen is they stress each other out, dwarfing their growth and fruiting more. You should prune in the summer instead of the winter to control the vigor.

Make the apple trees Dorsett Golden and Fuji, which self-pollinate fine and bear several months apart, and grow as well in your area as anywhere else in the world.

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing Apples in the City

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 7:42PM
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Hi Kuffelcreek,

Thanks for the information and wonderful article. I skimmed through it. It really seems like it has a lot of information. I'll have DH print it out at work because my printer is not working properly.

Just out of curiosity, do the same spacing rules apply for the other types of fruit trees including citrus? If it does, then a mandarin is a must. Any suggestions, for the last space? Grapefruit and persimmons are not fruits that I am intersted in. I'll plan on check out the Dave Wilson website to check out drawf varieties.

I am not sure which varieities will be on the ultra dwarf apple tree. JoeReal is grafting it for me (thanks again Joe). He is also grafting my lemon, plum, and cherry trees. I am sure that his choices will be super.

Thanks again for your help.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 8:52PM
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kuffelcreek(z5 So. Calif.)


There are no rules for spacing fruit trees. Ignore what it says on the label and space them however you need, which goes for all fruits. You ought to see how modern commercial apple orchards cram in the trees, and triple the yields of the old "big tree, large spacing" orchards.

I keep three seedling rootstock (standard size) apple trees espaliered and spaced three feet apart, and they are way less trouble to maintain than the mini-dwarf and dwarf trees I have. A Jacaranda branch fell and whacked one of the mini-dwarfs, breaking a couple branches off. It'll be two years until it grows back to normal. The standard would sprout a new branch in no time. I prune the standard trees twice during the summer, which is enough to keep them behaved.

Your key to success is summer pruning. Pruning in the winter just perks them up; it's summer pruning that sucks the vigor out of them and keeps them tamed.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 11:04PM
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Hi Kuffelcreek,

That is very interesting information about the commercial apple orchards. I would love to see pictures of your espaliered apple trees. Are there any suggested spacing for espaliered fruit trees (against a fence) and other pruned fruit trees? I guess that I would at least need enough room to maneuver through the branches of the pruned (non-espaliered) trees. How far apart do fruit trees need to be to prevent rooting problems? How far do you place yor fruit trees from walkways? Mine is gravel. I want to avoid access problems.

Are the pruning guidelines the same for citrus and pomegranate as other fruit trees? Sorry to ask so many questions, but I have have a life time of inexperience with fruit trees to make up for.

Thanks again for your help.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 1:51AM
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boballi(8 Central Valley CA)

I would also like to know any suggested spacing for espaliered fruit trees.

I would like to plant apple, pear, peach, apricot, cherry, and plum in two rows of either horizontal or fan espaliers.

I'm thinking about planting the trees seven feet apart with five feet between my rows. Is this too much room? not enough room?

I would like to get the highest yield possible. Will one form produce better than the other?

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!


    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 7:00PM
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To get the most varieties in the least space, I'd plant either a Belgian Fence of V shaped trees spaced 18" apart or an oblique cordon (single-trunked trees tipped 45 degrees) spaced 24" apart.

They both produce heavily and are easy to care for (and will stop traffic when blossoming or fruiting, plus is a great way to shield the view of your neighbor's trash). The cheapest way to do this is with benchgrafts, or else it gets a bit expensive. Use a dwarfing rootstock like M9 or Bud 9, which could be a bit hard to find right now as all commercial orchards are converting to it and some suppliers are sold out for next year already.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 7:32AM
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I was wanting to espalier two apple trees against a Privacy fense. I was going to use the dwarf (dayton, honeycrisp). Are you saying it would be better to use standard size, instead of the dwarf? andrew

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 9:30AM
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You can see some pictures of espaliered fruit trees here:

Here is a link that might be useful: Espaliered fruit trees

    Bookmark   January 27, 2007 at 1:30PM
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boballi(8 Central Valley CA)

I love the look of the Belgain Fence! Thanks for the picture.

How far apart would my rows need to be? I want lots and lots of varieties.

Will the Belgain Fence work with apricots, peaches, and plums? Or, would I be better off planting combination trees and pruning them to the fan shape?

Thanks for your recommendations!


    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 3:31PM
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