Positioning and spacing your Fruit Trees

Growing fruit trees successfully requires an open situation with plenty of light, shelter from prevailing winds and a freely draining soil. Good light ensures good growth and ripening of fruit. Shelter warms the site improving pollination, growth and fruit production. The ideal soil for fruit trees is a well-drained loam that is slightly acid. Avoid sites susceptible to waterlogging.

When selecting the site make allowances for the future growth of the trees. Planting distances between trees should not be too small. Allow for access when the trees have grown and good air circulation.

The following distances should serve as a guide. Of course planting can be further apart. If planting closer the trees may start to merge in future years.

Apples & Crab apples:

MM106 moderate vigour – 4-5m (14-17ft)

M26 semi dwarfing – 3-4m (10-14ft)

M9 dwarfing – 2.5-3m (8-10ft)

M25 – vigorous – 8-12m (25-40ft)

Plums, Gages & Damsons:

St Julien A – moderate vigour – 3.6-5.5m

Prunus spinosa WUR S766 – a new semi dwarfing rootstock, up to two thirds the vigour of St. Julian A.  3-3.6m (10-12ft)

Brompton – vigorous – 8-12m (25-40ft)

Pears & Quinces:

Quince A – moderate vigour 3.6-4.5m (12-15′)

Quince C – semi dwarfing – 2.5-3.6m (8-12′)

Pyrus communis – vigorous – 10m+ (35’+)


Gisela 5 – semi dwarfing – 3-4m (10-14ft)

Wild cherry F.12.1 – vigorous – 8-12m (25-40ft)

Different Styles

Espaliers – Apples & Pears

Apples (use M26 or MM106) & Pears (Quince A best for most varieties) space 3.6-5m (12-15ft) apart or into a similar sized gap. Use smaller spacing for apples on M26 and wider spacing for MM106 & Pears on Quince A.

Apples – generally M26 is good for espaliers intended to have two or three tiers. MM106 & Pears on Quince A is suitable where three or more tiers required. Weaker Pear varieties such as Beth, Concorde on Quince A can be planted closer or into a smaller space.

Some time is required to develop espaliers from ‘Maiden’ trees.The effort though is rewarding. For more information on the processes involved have a look at the pruning page. We do grow some one tier espaliers in 12 litre containers. This is a limited selection and because of the size are for collection only. For availability details (available September to April) please contact us.

Fans – Plums & Cherries

Plums and cherries are best fan trained rather than grown as espaliers. If grown as espaliers the pruning regime can mean reduced cropping.

Plums (Prunus spinosa WUR S766 & St Julien A) – space 3.6-5m (12-15ft) apart or into a similar sized gap. Use wider spacing for varieties on St Julien A and smaller spacing for varieties on Prunus spinosa WUR S766.

Cordons – Apples & Pears

Cordons are ideal for smaller plots, easy to develop and quickly into fruiting. Select ‘maiden’ Apples M26 or MM106 for more vigorous taller cordons & over arches) & Pears on Quince A and plant about 90cm (3ft) apart.

If we know you are going to grow your trees as cordons we try and select trees furnished with side branching. The development of side branching along the main stem is basis for fruiting in the future.

For further information on pruning to develop your trees have a look at the pruning page.

Download Our Free Leaflet

We produce a leaflet which accompanies any order and is downloadable here which details many aspects of planting and growing fruit trees.

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