Orchard Plan


I am considering clearing an area of my backyard to a more consistent planting of fruit. It will be between a patio and my neighbors fence and get at least 7 hours of sun during the growing season. I have attached a picture - rows of likely raspberries about 6 ft apart and pruined semi dwarf/dwarf tress in a 8ft centers with 10 feet between rows. Picture attached.

The space is currently occupied by a small maple and two spruce trees. There is a black walnut 20 feet to the NE of the planting (which will be removed).

I would plant to plant a row of plum/apple/pear or similar.

I wondered if anybody had any input or advice!



Sorry… I don’t know enough to have any good ideas but wanted to post so I could follow along.


Without knowing your age, energy level, number of available helpers, free time, and so on, it’s hard to say too much but my own experience suggests that nine trees plus soft fruit is a lot of work -and it all seems to need done at the same time!

I’ve got one apple frankentree, one plum on its own roots, one grafted plum, and a pear frankentree. I felt quite pressed for time during harvest this year. I’m retired, so I have more time, but I’m not young, so I have less energy. Sometimes nature forces your hand and you have to harvest at midnight to save your crop (I have a neighbor who was doing just that with his apples this year) and so on.

I lean towards fewer trees with multiple varieties, but those can be difficult to manage sometimes.

Good luck, have fun, and keep us posted!


A couple of things come to mind. First for spacing I think you might want to look at this link. It has some general information about spacing for trees trained to either a central leader or open center system.


I think the plums and pears will probably need a bit more space. Probably a couple of feet more for both between the tree and between the row spacing. Apples on dwarfing rootstock can be placed in a much smaller space. In commercial plantings on dwarf rootstock they actually use 3-4 feet between trees and 11 to 13 feet between rows. But for a central leader system 6 to 10 feet between trees would work well.

Have you thought about how your going to deal with pests and diseases? I would look at Alan’s synthetic spray schedule and Scott’s organic spray schedule which are both on this forum.

Ideally, you would try to choose cultivars with some disease resistance to plant and use spraying as a supplement to control disease and insect pests. Unfortunately, the fruit on fruit trees doesn’t have have any resistance to insects so you will have to spray insecticide or bag the fruit to protect them. Do you have cultivars you are considering and what rootstocks are they on?

Here is a link to an apple disease resistance chart.

Orange Pippin has information on disease resistance as well plus lots of other info on apples, plums, and pears.


In general, stone fruits like plums have more trouble with diseases than apples and pears. You may want to start with either apples or pears to gain experience and add the plums later.


You have already made the most important first step and thats came up with a plan. My recommendation would be to learn all you can about varities, fruit ripening times ? , what works best in your area? , what pollinates what? . As an example in an area with limited space i would plant something like prime ark freedom blackberry or primeark 45 because they produce multiple crops. Juliet cherry or carmine jewell cherry produce large amounts but require spray. Pears require little spray in conparison to other tree fruits eg. Apple.


I think your neighbors fence will be the biggest factor when planning your site. Summer ripening crops like raspberries and stone fruit belong in the areas where sunlight is least, like alongside your neighbors fence, and fall ripening crops like apples belong farthest from the fence.

Does “7 hours of sunlight during the growing season” mean 7 hours in October or June? The answer will impact what varieties of fruit you choose, and either way I’d recommend honing in on some tasty September ripening apples over the October ones knowing that you’ll have a shorter road to maturity.

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If you decide to go with apples, keep them as far away from those black walnut roots as possible. Apples can’t survive near black walnut. I learned the hard way. :slightly_smiling_face:

With relatively limited space, you may want to consider espalier for your apples and pears (and possibly fan training for stone fruit). It can be a practical and attractive way to go in a backyard setting - and to pick up on Mark’s very wise point about maintenance, while espalier does take more work in some ways, it simplifies things in others (a lot of the pruning becomes more straightforward, and you can keep everything well within reach without a ladder.)

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What do you spray your carmine jewel for? I have one, and I’ve only gotten one ripe cherry, because the critters eat them, but I’ve never sprayed it, and while i noticed something on some branches this year, it’s seemed pretty happy.

(This summer i finally completed a cage of hardware cloth around it: ground, top, and all sides. Most of the bush had grown outside the incomplete cage, so there wasn’t much fruit inside to ripen. My plan is to remove it and replace it with a pair of blueberries, but that one ripe fruit was tasty enough that I’m giving it one more year. I cut it way back this fall, and if it produces fruit inside the cage i might keep it.)

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I dunno. I have fewer trees, so maybe i just don’t understand the trials of more trees. But I feel like if youtr have one, it’s a tragedy when a deer eats it, or it succumbs to black knot. If your have several, something will likely do okay.

Yes, there are trade offs, and it also depends on where you’re growing, how large your trees are, and so on. My apple and pear are large enough to outlast the deer, and I’ve been lucky with the plums. Not so with my apricot experiments!

Thanks for the input everyone. I have been reading all the information on this forum and it is by far the best resource on the internet!


Agree… :+1:

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One of the very first info we ask new growers to provide is your location. You are in zone 6 but where? Zone 6 in CA is different than zone 6 in KS, and zone 6 in CT, etc. If your state has diverse microclimate, you should narrow it down to your area/county. That will help people give you more accurate suggestions/advice.

You’ve received a lot of good suggestions. You’ve also read up old threads which is a good move.

Let us know where you are, people can help you narrow down the kinds of fruit and varieties suitable for your area.

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Sorry I am I southwestern ontario. I’ll update my profile.

My neighbour just lost a good plum tree to black knot. Assuming we have similar disease challenges (which we may not - I’m about an hour west of Toronto), I would make black knot resistance a priority when picking a plum variety. From what i read, fireblight resistance is important with apples and pears. Haven’t seem it myself though.
My black-caps raspberries do great.
Currants, gooseberries and haskap also do well for me if you want some different berries.
The same neighbor has a sour cherry tree that does really well and doesn’t seem to get too big.

Thanks for the advice!

Any Idea what kind of insect pressure we are looking at in our area?

@Ginda They need sprayed with fungicide eg. Captan or immunox. See this thread Sour Cherry Leaf Spot . Cherry are also prone to canker

This summer, Japanese beetles were the worst for me, but i wouldn’t say it was critical. June bugs were thick for about a week but I don’t know that they did a lot of harm. Aphids were bad for a while on my cherry, but again I’m not sure how significant the impact is, the predators show up and the tree grew through the damage.
I battle with gooseberry sawfly on my currants and gooseberries. As long as i catch them at the right time with insecticidal soap and squeezing them it’s ok. If i don’t notice, they can strip a plant in a couple days.

I’m in my 4th year with fruit so just starting to get fruit on the apples and pears i have, some of the apples were wormy, but I’m not sure what it was… apparently plum curculio may be a problem, but i don’t have plums or cuculio yet.

A challenging we have is that in Ontario we don’t have access to most insecticides without a commercial license. Even you’re organic options are limited (i haven’t found a source for Surround).

Aside from bugs, I have lost a couple trees and some raspberry canes to rabbits in the winter - chicken wire or those white tree wraps are worth it. Make sure they are at least 18" above the snow drifts.

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I put down milky spore when I bought this house. I have issues with every vertebrate pest that can survive in this climate, but I only get a handful of Japanese beetles, and that might be why.

My dad used a pheromone-baited trap several years ago. It caught pints and pints of beetles, but it probably attracted them to the yard from far away, too.