an apple tree in an orchard garden

7 Essentials Tips on How To Grow An Orchard Garden

Strolling through an orchard is a pleasurable activity, no matter what time of the year: picking fruit in spring? Making the most of the long summer days? Admiring the colours in autumn? Wassailing in winter? An orchard provides fun, outside opportunities all year round! But what if you could create an orchard on your very own doorstep? Well, with an orchard garden, you can! An orchard garden is perfect for those who want to grow edible produce, whether for yourselves or your community. Here’s how to develop an orchard garden to start cultivating fresh food in your backyard.

What Is An Orchard Garden?

two women having a picnic in an orchard garden

An orchard garden is planted specifically to yield fruit, vegetables, seeds, herbs and nuts. To achieve this goal, an orchard garden is full of trees and shrubs that grow edible produce. But, of course, you don’t have to cultivate an orchard garden simply for food; you can grow your own orchard garden simply for its appearance too. Gardeners generally do orchard gardening tasks alongside traditional vegetable and ornamental gardening for a higher yield of food or a more visually appealing garden.  

How To Grow An Orchard Garden

Does an orchard garden sound like something you’d like to try at home? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Planting and cultivating an orchard garden isn’t that arduous of a process. However, it requires a bit of planning and forethought for guaranteed success. So here’s how to grow an orchard garden in 7 easy steps!

1. Choose Your Plants Well

a fruit tree in an orchard garden

The most crucial aspect of any orchard garden is the plants. Choosing the right plants for the location and size of your garden is essential to a successful, tasty yield. However, variety is also important. So, make sure to choose a range of plants, including those with edible produce, those that attract pollinators, those that make great companion plants and evergreen trees for year-round colour.

Of course, you can grow almost anything you’d like in an orchard garden. However, here are some of our favourites for a bit of inspiration:

  • Apples
  • Plums
  • Pears
  • Cherries
  • Mulberries
  • Peaches
  • Crab apples
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts

2. Plan Your Layout

seating area overlooking an orchard garden

Once you’ve chosen your plants, you need to decide where to put them. So, you should plan your layout carefully before you even get out into the garden. Gardeners traditionally plant orchards in a grid formation, with rows of trees spaced out from North to South to ensure each tree gets enough sun. However, every garden is different, and how you arrange your trees and plants will depend on the size and shape of your garden. For example, you could plant your trees in designated clusters around the space. Whichever way you decide to grow your orchard garden, you should make sure that you plan a space where each tree will receive plenty of sun, soil and space. Ideally, you should plant your trees 3 – 5 metres apart for sufficient light and enough room for the option of companion planting in the future.

No matter the size and shape of your garden, you should make a visual plan. So, use graph paper to make a scaled plan which includes where you’d like to plant everything. Of course, this may take several tries to get right. But don’t panic! You’ll find a suitable layout for your orchard garden with some time and patience.

3. Think Outside The Box

young trees planted up in small pots

As we discussed above, some of us may need more space or a suitable-sized garden to create a full orchard garden. However, this doesn’t mean you have to miss out! Instead, you have to be a little more creative. While planning your layout, consider other techniques you could use to create an orchard garden perfect for your space. For example, you could use vertical gardening, layered gardening, planting in pots, or climbing plants.

4. Prepare Your Soil

soil in a garden

Now you can get out in the garden! The first step in planting your orchard garden is to prepare the soil. Trees and plants in an orchard garden generally prefer well-drained, uncompacted soil with a slightly acidic pH. However, this will naturally vary depending on the types of things you want to grow. Usually, neutral soil will suffice.

You should be able to easily dig into good soil after removing the top layer of turf. Then, you can carry out simple soil tests to determine your soil’s acidity and texture. Once you know these things, you can make necessary improvements to ensure you have suitable soil for your orchard garden.

5. Set Out Your Plan

gardener moving a tree in an orchard garden

With a plan in place and your soil prepared, you can start installing your layout. This step is to ensure two things: that your original plan will work and that your plants will have enough support once you have planted them. So, begin setting out your plan using canes that will support your growing plants. Stake out your canes where your plants will grow to ensure that they will have enough room and that your layout will be a success.

Unfortunately, even slight slopes and undulations can change the layout of your orchard garden. So, if your original plan doesn’t work here, don’t be afraid to tweak it slightly until it does.

6. Plant Up

grape plants

When you’ve solidified your plan, you can start planting up your orchard garden! Following the plan that you have laid out with the right support, plant your chosen trees so they will be able to make the most of this support. To plant up the trees, you should prepare a hole between 20 – 30% larger than that tree’s root system needs to give the roots enough room to grow and avoid a surrounding basin that will collect water.

Once you’ve planted all your trees, make sure to take care of them until they’ve established themselves properly. Trees are vulnerable when they are young, so mulch well and water regularly during the first 18 months. Also, you may want to consider adding a tree guard around the base of your trees to protect their bark against rabbits and other unwanted visitors.  

7. Maintain Your Orchard Garden

gardener pruning trees in an orchard garden

Once you’ve planted up everything according to your plan, you’ll have to maintain them to ensure they grow. The maintenance jobs in an orchard garden vary by the season, but each is important to cultivating a healthy, green space. Here are some of the jobs you can expect to be doing once you have established your orchard garden:

SeasonOrchard Garden Jobs
SpringRemove weeds Mulch plants Plant up Support young plants
SummerFertilize plants Remove weeds Water plants Prune plants Harvest
AutumnHarvest Protect tender plants and young seedlings Tidy up fallen leaves Plant up bare root trees Prepare for winter
WinterPrune deciduous plants Protect plants from snow, frost and rain Fertilize new plants Tidy up Make any necessary repairs Leave food and water out for birds

Starting Your Own Orchard Garden

Cultivating an orchard in your garden is a very fulfilling garden technique. It allows you to grow some of your favourite fruits, vegetables, herbs and nuts that will taste much better than those you can buy in a supermarket. Plus, of course, it keeps you busy all year round! So, give an orchard garden a go – you can have fresh foods to include in your home cooking and plenty left over to share with your community.

Do you have any tips on growing an orchard garden? Let us know!

Sources

https://www.realhomes.com/advice/month-by-month-calendar-of-garden-jobs

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