In Massachusetts we are lucky enough to have favorable growing conditions for many tree fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, cherries, plums and apricots to name a few. The best part about fruit trees in the home landscape is that in addition to providing us with delicious fruit, they are also beautiful trees in their own right. Blooming apple trees in the spring are a sure sign that we’ve made it through the long winter (especially this one!) and that warmer days are ahead.
What about young fruit trees that we planted a couple years ago in the back yard near the veggie garden?
Or older apple trees that could easily be restored to a beautiful landscape accent as well as a producer of delicious apples?
Consider what you'd like to get from a fruit tree on your property. If you're going for strict aesthetics, then pruning every couple of years is in order, to maintain shape, maintain tree vigor and remove any dead or diseased wood. If you're more interested in the beauty factor, consider planting a crabapple. You still enjoy the spring bloom but without the follow up care required to produce edible fruit. If you would like to also gain some fruit out of the deal, there are a few more steps involved. Apples are notoriously plagued by a fungal disease called Apple Scab.
Apple Scab can infect leaves, fruit, leaf and fruit stems and green twigs. Apple Scab won’t go away on it’s own and must be addressed. There are a number of options to protect the tree from fungal infections. In addition, there are a few insects pests that require control as well. Remember that old joke? What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple? Finding half a worm! While it’s not likely that the fruit from your home orchard will be as flawless as those you get from the grocery store, they can still be delicious and nutritious.
Annual pruning is recommended to keep the trees in good shape, both for aesthetics and production. Winter is the best time to prune fruit trees. This would involve removing dead or diseased wood, some structural pruning cuts, and thinning out the crown for good light and air penetration. Cultural practices such as removing old leaves and fruit will help reduce the amount of inoculum available that could re-infect the trees the following season.
So what kind of fruit trees are in your landscape? Older established trees that need reclaiming? Young trees that need training? Fruit trees that bloom, but don't set any fruit? Call an ArborTech arborist to come assess your trees, suggest a management plan, and offer our expertise in pruning and pest management. We'll even help you eat the apples in the fall! Now that's service!