Tropical Style

Fruit Tree Planting & Separation

When planting more than 1 fruit tree, separation is a significant consideration for garden design and fruiting potential of the tree. The type of fruit, the rootstock on which the tree grows and the amount of available space in your garden will all affect the choice of just how far apart to plant your own trees.

Apple and Pear Trees

Apple and pear trees have been popular fruit trees for your backyard garden. They are typically grown on rootstocks as grafted trees rather than from seeds. These rootstocks impact the minimal spacing between trees more than the variety of apple or pear that grows on it. Dwarf or semi-dwarfing rootstocks are best for the backyard unless only 1 tree is to be planted. Total size trees may require up to 18 feet of spacing between trees, however semi-dwarfing apple rootstocks such as the M.7 and MM.106 can be planted 10 to 12 feet apart. Full-dwarf rootstock such as the M.9 apple rootstock may be planted from 4 to 8 ft of other trees. The higher estimate is to get fertile soil that will allow further increase. The lower estimate will make it possible for a healthy tree with good fruit, but it might not develop to its potential in stature. In general, pear trees need a bit more space than apples and needs to be spaced at the top estimate.

Stone Fruit Trees

Stone fruit, such as peaches and plums, don’t have as wide a variety of rootstock accessible and thus the standard planting width of 18 to 20 feet for full size trees is suitable. However, with pruning that trains the tree into a vertical pioneer and brief fruiting branches, they may be planted 8 to 9 feet apart. Cherry rootstocks are getting more common, but complete size Mazzard rootstock is still the most common for home growers. Search for the more recent dwarf rootstocks to find out whether they’re accessible, but if not, plant sour cherries 18 feet apart and sweet cherries up to 25 feet apart.

Citrus Trees

Citrus trees may grow to their full potential when planted 10 to 15 feet apart. They can be found on dwarfing rootstocks, however, the varieties are more limited than what is found with apples and cherries. The spacing recommendations normally adhere to a rule of thumb that places trees a distance apart that is half of their expected adult height of this tree.


Any of these fruit trees can be trained to a espalier or a hedgerow. Full-dwarf or even super-dwarf rootstocks are best suited to espaliers and hedges, and less space is needed between trees. Trees on dwarfing rootstock can be planted with only 2-foot spacing between trees. Trees planted with super-dwarf rootstock may be planted with only 1 foot of space between the trees. This system calls for a lot of pruning to keep the tree at the desired size and shape.

Blending Tree Types

When planting different types of trees collectively, the spacing between trees should adhere to the requirements for the bigger tree. Spacing recommendations are supplied so that every tree will get sufficient light and nutrients from the soil. If a more compact tree is planted too near a bigger tree, it may be overshadowed and never get sufficient light from the sun. Placement with regards to which part of the garden receives the most light, and from which management, can allow closer spacing if the smaller tree is not placed in the shade.


Many types of fruit tree demand a different variety of the identical fruit tree nearby for pollination. Very few apples, pears or sweet cherries are self-fruitful. Even varieties of fruit that are self-fruitful will have a better harvest if they’re cross-pollinated with something nearby. The pollination partner to get a fruit tree should be within 100 feet of the tree. The booming period for those trees must overlap for pollination to be successful, however, the trees don’t have to start and stop blooming at the exact same moment. Before deciding if pollinators are essential when you plant your own fruit tree, check within 100 feet to see if suitable pollinators are already existing.

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