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Fruit Tree Height and Spacing

You are probably eager to know just how many trees you can plant on your land. Perhaps you would like to grow not just apples, but also peaches, pears, and cherries. Perhaps you are hoping to collect all the apple varieties whose names start with “A” (Ashmead’s, Akane, Anna …). Whatever your goals are, the guidelines on this page will help you plan your slice of paradise.

There are several reasons why trees need adequate spacing: In order to properly care for your tree, you need to prune it every year and mow around it regularly (if the area is planted with grass) during the growing season. This means you need to be able to maneuver easily around the tree when it is mature. Additionally, proper spacing allows for good airflow and light penetration, both of which are necessary to the health and productivity of a fruit tree. Unfortunately, as is often the case in the universe of agriculture, there are no hard and fast rules for tree spacing. You need to give a tree enough space to achieve its full “treeness” so you need to know roughly how big the mature tree will be.

Below we have outlined some very rough and ready dimensions for mature trees, but these should be adjusted to accommodate varieties that are extremely vigorous such as Mutsu or Northern Spy, and if you are planning to use a special training method such as espalier, you should research the spacing that is appropriate to that training.  For example, a modern orchard will plant Honeycrisp on dwarf g.11 rootstock at a spacing of 3’ between trees and 10' between rows, and use a renewal pruning system to keep them contained and fruitful (basically espalier). Honeycrisp on g.11 will reach a height of about 10’ and a diameter of 6-8’ if allowed to reach its full capacity.  In comparison, Mutsu will reach a height of 12’-14’ on g.11 and require 8-10’ between trees.  Don’t worry if your trees are crowded later on down the road. You can always compensate with summer pruning.

Guidelines for the Backyard Grower (Trees Not in Rows)

  • The tree sizes listed below are intended to provide guidelines for spacing. The numbers refer to the average diameter of a tree that is allowed to reach its full capacity. You can always give trees more, or less, space as required for the orchard system that you choose.
  • Any structure such as a building or a fence should be treated as another tree in terms of spacing.
  • The final diameter and height of a tree will vary significantly according to numerous factors that include variety vigor, pruning, and growing conditions.
  • If a pollenizer is required, it should be within 100 feet of its partner tree.
Tree SpeciesSize Class / RootstockDiameter of Mature TreeApproximate Height of Mature Tree
AppleDwarf = B.9, G.11, G.214, G.16, G.41, M.9 NAKB3378'12'
AppleSemi-Dwarf = G.202, G.935, M.26, G.22212'15'
AppleHalf-Standard = G.890, M.7,  G.969, G.30, G.210 16'16'
AppleSemi-Standard = M.106, MM.11120'18-25'
AppleStandard = B.118, P.18, Seedling30'20-40'
PearDwarf = Quince, Pyro 23310'13'-15'
PearSemi-Standard = OHxF 8715'18'
Pear Standard = OHxF 97, Seedling18'18'
Peach, Apricot, and PlumAll Sizes and Rootstocks16'15'
Tart CherryDwarf = Gisela, Krymsk 5,6,712'14-18'
Tart CherryStandard = Mahaleb K9918'18'
Sweet CherryDwarf = Gisela, Krymsk 5,6,715'14'
Sweet CherryStandard = Mahaleb, Mazzard22'18-25'

Guidelines for a Small Orchard (One or More Rows)

  • As a general rule of thumb, the space between rows should be approximately equivalent to the height of the mature trees. 
  • The requirements outlined below are the minimum space requirements for the rootstock/size class of the tree. 
  • The final diameter and height of a tree will vary significantly according to numerous factors that include variety vigor, pruning, and growing conditions.
  • Pollenizers should be planted at approximately 60' intervals.
Tree SpeciesSize Class / RootstockTree and Row SpacingApproximate Height of Mature Tree
AppleDwarf = B.9, G.11, G.214, G.16, G.41, M.9 NAKB3374' x 14'12'
AppleSemi-Dwarf = G.202, G.935, M.26, G.2228' x 16'15'
AppleHalf-Standard = G.890, M.7, G.969, G.30, G.21014' x 20'16'
AppleSemi-Standard = M.106, MM.11118' x 25'18-25'
AppleStandard = B.118, P.18 Seedling40' x 40'20-40'
PearDwarf = Quince, Pyro2338' x 15'13'-15'
PearSemi-Standard = OHxF 8712' x 18'18'
PearStandard = OHxF 97, Seedling18' x 22'18'
Peach / Apricot / PlumAll Sizes and Rootstocks15' x 22'15'
Tart CherryDwarf = Gisela, Krymsk 5,6,712' x 18'14'-18'
Tart CherryStandard = Mahaleb, Krymsk 9918' x 24'18'
Sweet CherryDwarf = Gisela, Krymsk 5,6,714' x 20'14’
Sweet CherryStandard = Mahaleb, Mazzard20' x 28'18'-25' 

For further reading about starting a fruit garden, check out Tips on Planning a Fruit Garden at Dave’s Garden and Fruit Orchard Design for Small Spaces at Mother Earth News. Homesteaders will find great advice on many forums such as homestead.org, which has published a guide, Planning the Homestead Orchard.






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