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trees in a side yard  RSS feed

 
K Mortensen
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Hi! I'm new here and I'm pretty new to gardening as well, but I've already learned a lot from reading the forums here .

I've got a side yard on the west side of my house that I would really like to plant some fruit trees in. The main problem is it is only about 10' by 20'. The neighbors driveway is on the other side of the fence. Is that a big enough space for two semi-dwarf fruit trees? I would plant dwarfs, but that side of the house would also appreciate a bit of shade... I'm in Zone 7a and waffling between apples, cherries, or peaches. I read somewhere that apples should ideally be planted on with eastern exposure so the dew on the leaves evaporates quickly. Seems legit, but also too idealistic maybe? I've never planted trees before.
 
John Polk
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Welcome to permies.

That area should be big enough for dwarf varieties, but some semi-dwarfs are not that much smaller than their full sized cousins. A good nursery (not a home garden center!) should know the dwarfing stock, and how it performs in your area. You don't want anything that does battle with your foundation (or the neighbor's driveway). Another point might be the fence - is it a wire (see-through) or a solid fence that will block the afternoon sun for the first several years of the tree's life?

 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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Cherries are usually big, apples will do OK, peaches might need more sun and wind depends. Pears?
 
Jen Shrock
pollinator
Posts: 363
Location: NW Pennsylvania Zone 5B bordering on Zone 6
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What USDA hardiness zone are you in? Where are you located? Do you know approximately how much precipitation you get in a year? What type of surface is your neighbors driveway (asphalt, gravel, concrete)? What type of fence is it? Do you know what your soil is like on that side of your house (clay, sandy, does it drain well, etc.)?

* Maybe you even want to look at some multi-graft varieties (multiple varieties per tree). It would allow you some variation in what you get. If part of it is quite shady already, pawpaw trees, especially when starting out, actually should be shaded some.
* You might also want to consider some vining fruit for on that fence (grapes, kiwi, passionfruit) to add some extra options to that fence or you could even add a trellis on the side of your house for them and they would help with shading the house (and give you more size options on your trees since you are concerned about that).
* Once you decide on the trees you want and get them going, a few years down the road you will have some options for additional fruit that you want to grow underneath them that can deal with shading like gooseberries, currants and jostaberries.
 
Galadriel Freden
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Location: West Yorkshire, UK
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I want to add, that if you get late frosts, the southwestern side of the yard isn't so great for early flowering fruit trees; blossoms can survive frost if they are allowed to thaw gradually, but if they are frosted and touched by sun, the instant thawing will kill the blossoms. My parents live in zone 6, and their apricot tree hardly ever gets fruit because it's on the western side of the yard; however, their neighbor only a few houses down has apricots almost every year because his tree is on the north-western side of the house.

Ed for spelling
 
K Mortensen
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We're in Zone 7a, Utah's Wasatch front. The neighbors driveway is really beat up asphault (not much more than gravel in most places) and the fence is a board fence. I'm not sure about the rain because it varies a lot in this immediate area. I'd guess between 15 and 20 inches/yr, more up on the mountain, less in the valley, where we are. Last summer I calculated that this spot got about 8 hours full sun a day. I was contemplating, maybe tacking some sheet metal to the fence so it could maybe reflect some early morning sun back at the trees. It would help keep the dog from bugging the neighbors too, though it won't help our temperature problems inside the house..
 
K Mortensen
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I've got smallish back and front yards to work with as well but I would like to maintain something of a lawn in the back for the kids, as there is already a mature boxelder back there (only tree on the entire place). In the front the neighbors on the other side have a huge sycamore that shades the eastern half of the front yard. The entire eastern side of the house is in deep shade.

Thanks for all of the replies, BTW this is awesome. Keep em coming! I see y'all are sticklers for details, just like me
 
K Mortensen
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Or should I just scrap the whole idea of trees there, put shades on the windows and just build a nice raised bed there as I originally planned? This was before I though we were going to be here long enough to make trees worth while. My kids prefer fruit to vegetables any day .
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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Why not plums and prunes, they bear a lot and are really easy. Nashis are not as good as European pears but bear well too.
Currants josta and gooseberries are good too. You can under plant the trees with herbs and perennials and strawberries.
 
Jen Shrock
pollinator
Posts: 363
Location: NW Pennsylvania Zone 5B bordering on Zone 6
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Why not follow through with your fruit dream and you can plant a few veggies tucked in underneath them too! Don't give up on the dream, you are just getting started!! What kind of fruits do you and your family like? THAT is where you should start. You can scale down most fruit trees by whatever stock they end up being grafted onto. Heck, they even have some micro stock now that makes very, very short trees. Keep in mind, generally the shorter the tree you choose (how much dwarfing you want to accomplish with the rootstock selection), the more babying you will probably need to do to the tree (like you might need to support it's limbs if it is really small) and it does shorten the life of the tree some, but you should still get many years out of whatever you select. If you select something mid-range on size, you get the adventure of designing in layers of things, if you choose, amping up the variety of things you have available to eat.

I asked about the neighbors driveway because, since you mentioned that it is paved, if it gets sun on it, it would hold some heat and you might have a little microclimate zone along your fence that would possibly be able to grow things in a higher zone number than is normally possible. Your wood fence would be a good place to attach a trellis and the plants would help to provide some "cover" for the dog being too nosy.
 
K Mortensen
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Heh, dream is far from gone I'll ask about semi-dwarfs at a nursery when I get a chance.

What would you do?
Couple Rules:
1.Cannot destroy [much] home value. Want to be able to sell this place to get the real deal in a few years, after all.
2.Need some lawn in the back yard for the kids to play on, throw a frisbee for the dog, etc.
3. Food plantings should be fruit heavy if I want to keep the family excited about this. Unfortunately I am cursed with a BUNCH of picky eaters so anything particularly unusual probably wont work at all.
4. Kids want a tree big enough to build a tree house in. Mulberry?
5. Anything not along a fence line is at risk of being trampled, so being able to fence it off would be a plus.

The front yard is mostly up for grabs and the west side yard at the moment is 100% wasted space. The back door is on the east side. The only redeeming quality of the two planting beds in back is that they are in full sun.


Heres the yard layout:



 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
Posts: 985
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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What looks good is persimmon (not the American). And kids are fuzzy eaters when stuff comes on the table but when they eat directly out of the garden they do eaat their veg. Beds directly at the house look great but are not very good for the house especially if it is timber (moisture termites) and these beds can contain led or spray residues. I would use the fences for cane fruit kiwi etc too. Kids need raspberries.
 
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