Site Preparation For Fruit Trees

For those of you who have already ordered fruit trees – thank you! If you’ve already ordered or plan to order and plant fruit trees, here are some steps to take before you get your fruit trees in the ground.

Fruit trees are like most other plants – they need to be in soil. If you’re really adventurous, you can try growing them in a container…but that is the subject of a future blog post.

To prepare the soil for fruit trees, do the following:

1) Soil test – Even if you plan to only plant one tree, a soil test is an inexpensive way determine what the soil needs to provide the fruit tree with adequate nutrition. On larger plantings where more money is invested in the trees, a soil test is essential to protect the investment. Universities and private labs offer soil tests. Here in Texas, we recommend the labs at Stephen F. Austin State University and Texas A&M. For about $10 a test, they will give you a very good assessment of what’s in the soil and what it needs to grow fruit.

2) Determine your soil texture and pH – If your soil is an organic-matter rich sandy loam, you’re in luck! For the rest of us, we may have to do some soil enhancements. Depending on the results of the soil test, there may also be a need to adjust soil pH. Fruit trees need a soil pH of 6-6.5 for best production. If the soil is clay, mix in large amounts of organic matter and sand (if available) to increase the drainage of the soil.

3) Kill the weeds – Weeds –even turfgrass – are the enemies of young fruit trees. In many commercial orchards, a glyphosate herbicide (Round-up) is sprayed around the planting site before the tree is planted. This helps eliminate weed competition. Mulches and herbicides can help keep the area around the young trees weed-free as the trees grow. For a non-chemical weed control method, try a propane-powered weed burner, or good old fasthioned elbow grease with a shovel and hoe.  Mulch young fruit trees in spring as soon as growth starts. (

4) Dig the hole – Dig a hole large enough to allow the roots to be spread without bending or crowding. Add organic matter at planting if the soil is clay or extremely sandy. In clay soil, blend the clay with some organic matter before you put it back around the tree. And don’t plant the tree at ground level in clay soil. Plant the tree so that the base will be elevated above the native soil.  Use mulch or loam soil around the base of the tree to cover the roots.

5) Wait for your trees – At the time of this blog post, we are shipping and we should be shipping for almost another month.

6) Plant the trees – Soak the tree roots in water for at 30 minutes to an hour before planting. Don’t keep the roots in water for longer than that…and don’t let the roots dry out. If they can’t be planted right away, leave them wrapped and in a cool area out of the sun. We pack the trees so they will last about 2 weeks without the roots drying out.

7) Plant the trees, part 2 – Place the trees in the hole and cover the roots with soil. Press down gently on the soil surface and then water thoroughly. When the water has drained and you can see where the soil settled around the roots, add more soil and pack it in with your hand.

8) Prune the tree – this is painful, but for most trees this is the time to prune it back. This is essential, especially for 4-5′ trees are larger.

That’s it! Now comes the fun part – watching the tree grow into something that will provide food for you and your family. 

Do you have any tricks or methods you use to plant fruit trees?  Let us know in the comment section below!