How to Plant and Prune New Fruit Trees



Deciduous fruit tree planting time is here! Before you get planting, be sure of the best spot and appropriate spacings.


  • Dig a 20 litre hole
  • Open clay soil by puncturing the bottom of the hole with your garden fork.
  • Hold sandy soil by lining the bottom of your hole with wet newspaper
  • Mix the excavated soil 50/50 with compost.


Soak potted trees in a bucket of water until bubbles no longer appear. Remove the stake and tape – these are pot support only. Slit the bag open and lightly tease out the roots. Trim overlong ones back to match the others.  

Plant bare-rooted trees right away. Create a hump of soil in the hole for the roots to rest on and sit the tree on the hump. Trim any roots that are too long roots for the hole.

  • Position the tree in the hole, so it’s standing straight. Ensure the graft is above the soil line.
  • Backfill with the soil mix. Use your fingers to push the soil in firmly around the roots.
  • Give the tree a tug to be sure it’s well planted.


Drive a robust stake into the ground about 20cm away from the trunk on the windward side. Affix the tree to the stake with soft stocking tie – firmly, not rigidly. Allow a bit of freedom to move to stimulate root development. More roots = the ability to source a wide range of nutrient and support giving it the best shot at being drought proof, wind proof and heavy crop proof. Remove the stake when the tree’s holding its own after 2/3 years.

Trees on dwarf rootstocks need permanent stakes, which is why I prefer a bigger rootstock – independence is a character I do so admire.

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