Fruit trees can be an attractive part of a home landscape, as this carefully planned orchard shows.
The orchard space is about 16x16 feet on the west side yard of a historic home in my city's downtown. In the center is a pear tree flanked by two apple trees and two peach trees. The five trees are laid out in a circular cross design with islands of light brown bark mulch separated by black edging and light colored gravel paths. This ground design is striking all year long, perhaps even more so in winter when the trees are bare. The mulch serves an extra purpose: it covers the drip-line irrigation system. All the trees are dwarf varieties.
A bed of strawberry plants borders one side of the grid, which fits right in with the owner's orchard motivation: "Because we love fruit."
Here, the trees create a privacy screen between the street and the house.
This is the front of the beautiful home, with the orchard shown on the left. The home sits on a large lot, but its compact orchard offers inspiration for using fruit trees in residential landscapes of all sizes. These strategies are worth noting:
• Choose dwarf varieties for small spaces.
• Separate fruit trees from lawn if you can. First, their water needs are different. Second, grass will not grow well under a fruit tree's canopy.
• Think of a tree's pollination needs. Most apple varieties require another apple tree nearby to produce fruit.
• Use landscape cloth and mulch to cut down weeds. Consider adding a design element with your choice of mulches.