Sharing all the tips & tricks I learned planning, planting & starting a small home orchard with apples, peaches, plums, pears, cherries & fig trees next to our raised vegetable garden & DIY chicken coop.
It has been my dream to grow a home orchard for well over a decade now.
When we moved into our old farmhouse, our yard looked like an overgrown & dying Christmas tree farm.
We definitely had our work cut out for us with a lot of big dying trees that needed to come down before this small home orchard with fruit trees could happen.
Even before our yard was ready, I started to quietly bring home fruit trees to plant.
I just couldn’t wait any longer!
After ordering 6 heirloom fruit trees this past summer, Jason (my husband) knew I was serious & we took down the last 2 dead trees from our yard just a few weeks before the trees arrived.
Table of Contents
DIY – Starting a Home Orchard – The Planning
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Choosing the Perfect Spot for Planting an Orchard
The first thing you need to do is find the perfect spot for your home orchard to grow.
I chose a spot in our backyard that receives full sun & that I can enjoy from our family room window.
We also placed the fruit trees very close to our new veggie garden making it easy for me to water both our fruit trees & vegetables all at the same time.
It is also next to our DIY chicken coop we built so our chickens can help with bug control in our home orchard.
What Fruit Trees to Plant in your Home Orchard
Soon after we moved in, I planted 2 winesap apple trees & brought home a moonglow pear tree last year.
After reading & researching heirloom trees I ordered 6 more trees (a Fearns Pippin apple, a Newtown Pippin apple, a Seckel pear, a Redhaven peach, a Santa Rosa Plum & a Lapins Cherry) from Trees of Antiquity.
I ordered a starter home orchard kit from Trees of Antiquity. The best part about the starter orchard kit is that all the fruit trees are guaranteed to bloom at the same time.
I later added another cherry tree, peach tree & a fig tree because you can never have too many fruit trees, ha!
Planting a Home Orchard
The trees arrived bare root so it was important to plant them as soon as possible.
Most of our trees are semi dwarf in size so they shouldn’t get much more than 10-15 feet tall & wide.
Although I love the look of tall fruit trees I know that it isn’t realistic to have to harvest most of our fruit on a ladder.
We marked out the spots to plant the fruit trees so they would be about 12 feet apart (note the dead fallen tree we had to take down to make room for our fruit trees).
Digging the Holes for our Fruit Trees in our Home Orchard
I dug the holes about 3-4 feet around and 1-2 feet deep.
Placing the Fruit Trees in the Holes & Adding Back the Dirt
After placing the tree in the center of the hole, I back filled the hole with the hole’s original dirt making sure that the graft part of the tree was at least 2 inches above the soil line.
This prevents the tree from re-rooting itself & growing taller than it’s semi dwarf size.
I made sure to leave any rocks and roots out of the soil so the trees have lots of room to spread their roots.
Watering the Fruit Trees
After the trees were planted I made sure to give them a lot of water.
When planning your home orchard & because fruit trees need a lot of water, I would definitely recommend placing your trees in a spot that you can water easily with a hose!
Painting the Trunks of the Fruit Trees in a Home Orchard
I painted the trunks of the tree with some watered down latex white paint.
This will help protect the young tree trunks from the sun as well as well as make it easy to see apple borers on our apple trees.
Adding Mulch to the Base of the Fruit Trees
Lastly, I added mulch to all the trees.
It took only a few weeks for all the fruit trees to start showing signs of life.
There is nothing like the smell of apple blossoms in the spring.
The kids & I enjoy checking on our fruit trees every day.
Planting an orchard really is a fun adventure for ALL of us!
It won’t be long now before we have a bumper crop of fruit! I hope this inspires you to start planning & planting a home orchard for your home!
by Tara Lehman
See our Home Orchard 3 years… & the 4 Home Orchard Mistakes I Made (HERE)
Don’t Forget to Save & Pin How to Start a Home Orchard!
Tara, I am so very jealous! You will so enjoy having that orchard as it continues to grow and thrive. We have a small garden, but I’ve always thought it’d be lovely to have fruit trees as well.
Thank you so much Lynn! We are pretty excited with the thoughts of bushels full of fruit in our future 🙂
What a great idea! I love the blooms they are so beautiful!
Thank you so much Carolann! We are pretty excited about our home orchard 🙂
How exciting!!! I would love to this one day when we move out to the country! Takes me back to growing up on my granny’s apple orchid! So special!
Thanks Sam! We are so excited for our new fruit trees! How fun to grow up on your Granny’s apple orchard!!
Hi Tara, hope you take a comment from a guy. How was your Fearns Pippin that you ordered. I just placed an order with TOA, last year and this year. Last year I only wanted 1 tree and ended up ordering 6 plus 2 Goji Berries. This year I wanted 2 or 3 more ended up with 10. I guess this gets kind of addictive. Your garden looks great, wish I had that much room.
Ha, thanks so much for commenting John! You sound like me, I definitely have a hard time saying no to buying trees and plants. My Fearns Pippin is growing well and looks very healthy. Since I only planted it last year I haven’t gotten any apples from it yet but I am hoping to get one or two this year. Unfortunately, the deer found our fruit trees early spring and I lost most of the apple blossoms in our orchard. I took precautions this year and hung CD’s from all my fruit trees to help keep the deer away. The CD’s worked amazingly well in our vegetable garden and for our blackberry bushes last summer so I am really hoping the deer stay away this year! Sounds like your garden is going to be amazing with all those trees! I would love to hear what your favorite purchase is so far… I am always looking for suggestions for our garden :).
I got hooked on fruit trees a couple of years ago. I’m so jealous of the apples you are able to grow. I am in zone 8b and am limited to super low chill hour requirements. I am gardening on a half acre suburban lot and have loved the pruning techniques in the book Grow a Little Fruit Tree by Ann Ralph. It will allow you to add lots more varieties to your home orchard.
Thanks so much for taking the time to check out our home orchard Holly! How wonderful to have such a long growing season where you are! Will check out the fruit tree book you recommended I am always looking for more varieties of trees to grow 🙂
Well I started building a home orchard in my .5 acre sub-urban lot in 2014. I can tell you it was a learning experience. The worst thing I encountered was unscrupulous online nurseries like fastgrowingtrees.com. Like you I eventually found TressofAntiquity.com and that is now where I order almost all of my fruit trees from. Those guys ship out a quality product. Yes they charge a little more but it is worth it.
Thanks so much for stopping by to check out our home orchard Juan!