Studying your size accommodations

Adding fruit plants of some kind to your home landscape is not just about harvesting delicious fruit. The size of the plant is important, as is the relative beauty of its flowers and foliage. Ideally, the plant fits in and enhances the attractiveness of your yard even when it's not producing fruit.

Pick a plant that fits into its allotted space in your home landscape. Be realistic, because fruit-bearing plants already require consistent maintenance without you also having to constantly cut them back in an effort to get them to fit in a too-small area.

To find out predicted mature size of a specific cultivar, look on the label, ask a nursery staffer, or look up the plant in a reference book, nursery catalog, or on the Internet. If your space is limited, go looking for a dwarf cultivar or one explicitly billed as having a compact growth habit. For instance, check out the 'Colonnade' apple tree, which has a single main trunk that only grows to 10 feet tall with short branches. Don't consign yourself to a career of constant shaping and pruning to keep an eager plant small unless you have the time and inclination! (Constant chopping back also runs the risk, of course, of reducing your potential harvest, not to mention making the plant look awkward or unattractive.)

Access may also be a consideration for you. If you dream of simply strolling out with a basket and gathering up fresh fruit, choose a fruit that doesn't require a ladder to care for and harvest from. Examples of favorite, more-compact growers include currant, gooseberry, blueberry (both high-bush and low-bush), strawberry, and some blackberry, raspberry, and grape culti-vars. Figure 15-1 shows a typical strawberry garden plan that allows easy harvesting.

Figure 15-1:

Strawberry garden plan aligned for easy harvesting.

A double-row hill of strawberries are set out in two rows 12 inches apart; between the double rows is a 2-foot path for walking.

Generally, two kinds of fruit trees are suitable for a home garden: regular and dwarf or semi-dwarf. The latter are best if your space is limited, of course. Caring for and harvesting from fruit trees often requires a longer reach, namely use of a ladder and pole saws or long-reach pruners. Examples of favorite taller or larger fruit plants include apple, pear, peach, apricot, plum, citrus (lemon, orange, and grapefruit) trees, and kiwi vines.

Here are a few more ideas to consider as you explore how to fit fruits into your garden:

  • Use a line of berry plants as a property boundary.
  • Put single berry plants at the corners of your vegetable garden.
  • Use a shrub or small tree fruit in your foundation planting.
  • Plant a fruit tree in your entryway garden (so long as it gets enough sun).
  • Create a small orchard in your back forty.
  • Expand your vegetable garden to include a strawberry or melon patch.
  • Add a berry bush or two to an informal shrub border.
  • Plant berry bushes at the base of a gazebo (not blocking, of course, the way in).
  • Site one or more fruit trees in an informal lawn, slight slope, or other open area.
  • Plant fruit trees in your streetside curb strip (after some soil improvement, no doubt).
  • Plant a fruiting vine so it grows over a pergola or archway, creating shade below.
  • Grow a dwarf fruit tree in large container on a sunny patio or deck.

If you have the room, you can also simply install a full-blown fruit garden, like the in Figure 15-2.

Because some plants can't pollinate themselves, you may have to allow room for two or more plants. See the following section for details.

Figure 15-2:

Plan for a good-sized fruit garden.

Path

Apple

Apple

(dwarf pyramid)

/—,

(dwarf pyramid)

Apple

vv

(dwarf pyramid)

Apple

Apple

(dwarf pyramid)

(dwarf pyramid)

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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