Growing your own apples can be a terrific idea and your choices for a home orchard include Standard, Semi-Dwarf and Dwarf apple trees. Semi dwarf apple trees can make a lot of sense because they are a manageable size and their yield is good as well.
Standard apple trees are used less because “dwarfing” can not only reduce the size to a more manageable one (important if you have a small yard), it can also have the tree bearing fruit earlier. And reducing the size of the tree doesn’t affect the size of the fruit! Here are some beginner’s tips for buying, spacing, planting and pruning these apple trees.
Remember cross pollination is necessary to grow fruit, so choose different varieties of apple trees when buying them, rather than buying just one variety. Before buying, consider what type of tree will thrive given your soil type and the weather where you are. Also look for disease resistant varieties so that you have to worry less about pests.
Look for strong, straight stems in the tree that you choose, with a clearly differentiated central branch with other secondary branches that are well balanced and do not have very low branches (which tend to attract pests. Look for good, healthy roots as well.
Remember that semi dwarf apple trees will 15 to 18 feet in height so plant them where they will have the space to grow and branch out. You don’t want the tree branches to get crowded and you also want that the trees should get the chance to produce optimum amounts of fruit. The recommended spacing for these trees is about 12 to 15 feet or more apart. As your retailer what the optimum spacing should be for the variety of tree you’re getting.
How to plant
Plant ideally during early spring or as soon as any frost has dissipated. If your soil is water-logged it is best to wait until it has drained or dried out some. Choose a spot that gets plenty of sun light. Dig a hole that will accommodate the roots without cramping and put soil and water to fill in the hole after planting the tree. You can add some conditioned compost or peat moss if required.
Proper pruning will keep branches clear off the ground and keep the tree growing in a good and balanced manner. Also if the tree produces large amounts of fruit the fruit may be required to be thinned as well.