Your guide to caring for a homegrown apple tree in your yard

October 13, 2015

Planting and growing your own apple tree can provide a bounty of delicious fruit every fall season. To reap the rewards of your own apple tree, it takes knowledge of planting methods, site selection and proper care; here is how to grow a tree that produces fruit for years.

Your guide to caring for a homegrown apple tree in your yard

Pick out your trees

  • Apples trees cannot self-pollinate, which is why you will need to plant at least two different types of apple trees near one another.
  • There are many different apple varieties that do well in Canadian climates, such as Golden Delicious, Empire and Spartan, and it's important that you select a type suited to your environment to avoid situations where your tree might not produce fruit.
  • While it is possible to grow an apple tree directly from an apple seed, it's a good idea to buy your saplings from a local nursery to plant.
  • They can sell you trees that fit your climate and give you tips for the specific trees in which you're interested.
  • If you want, it's also not a bad idea to take a soil sample test. A local nursery can help you interpret the test results, give suggestions on which apple variety to select and tell you how to adjust the soil pH.

Select a site

  • You should make sure the place where you plant your apple sapling has good soil drainage and sufficient air circulation, as apple trees tend to do poorly in overly moist areas.
  • Also try to avoid depressed areas where cold air can settle, as this can negatively impact your tree's growth.

Plant the tree

  • Dig a hole about twice as deep as the actual root system of your sapling, and place the sapling inside the hole.
  • Fill the hole with a mixture of soil and compost. Do not add any fertilizer. The hole should be 60 centimetres deep in most cases. Pat the soil down around the tree and then water your tree thoroughly.
  • Then add a layer of mulch around the tree along with a light coating of organic fertilizer.
  • On top of that, spread some woodchips to keep weed growth under control. All of these steps will also help your tree retain moisture.

Protect the tree

  • Deer and other pests love to feed on apple trees, so it's important to protect your tree as much as possible.
  • You can put up a wire mesh fence to keep most deer and rabbits away from your sapling. For other pests, like apple maggots, you can buy specially designed sticky gels that will catch the maggots and kill them.
  • Other insects can be killed with sprays you can purchase at your local nursery or garden supply store.

Care for your tree

  • While the tree is still small, you should water it roughly every 12 days, but you can cut back on the frequency as it grows.
  • During the growing season, which runs May through March, you should provide your tree with about 2.5 centimetres of water per week.
  • If your tree is getting plenty of rain, you might not need to water it, but during dry spells, it's good to give it a good soaking.
  • Every spring, remove the mulch from your tree and spread a layer of compost on top of the soil; then replace it with a new layer of mulch.

Prune your tree

  • Although you don't want to prune a young tree, as your tree matures, you'll want to prune it annually.
  • If your tree is producing excessive fruit, you'll also want to thin the fruit a bit, as this can improve the quality of the remaining apples.

In the end, growing your own apple tree can be a highly rewarding experience. Follow these steps, and you should eventually have an apple tree that produces tasty fruit right outside your front door.

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