One of the joys of using fruit trees for landscaping plants is that they are both useful and attractive. The same tree that supplies you with fresh fruit for your table or canning jars may make an excellent feature tree, a restful shade tree or a lovely backdrop behind a bright garden display. Plan your fruit tree landscaping carefully and your plants will please your eye as well as your stomach.
Shade Your House
Have your fruit trees serve double duty as shade trees. Plant fruit trees on the south or southwest side of your house and they will shelter it as they grow. These trees will block the late afternoon sun, keeping your house cool and decreasing your air conditioning bill. If you live in a colder climate or like getting the hot afternoon sun in through the window, avoid planting trees near to the south side of the house to preserve as much sunlight as possible.
Train Your Trees
The way you train your fruit trees can greatly affect the their appearance and their affect on your overall landscape. Train them to the open center system to get a wide, cone- or vase-shaped tree. Remove branches from the center, allowing the tree to branch out diagonally in a broad spread. For a more upright tree, use the central leader system. Prune lateral branches, selecting certain periodically spaced ones while removing other outward shoots along a central straight trunk. This will create a straight tree, thinned out enough to allow good light penetration to the boughs. Training your tree will also strengthen it and improve your fruit production.
Even within the same species of fruit, different strains will bloom at different times. Rather than planting your landscape with one type of fruit tree, select a variety of trees with different bloom dates. Not only will this ensure a selection of fruit throughout the entire season, but it will also provide a rotating display of interesting visual features in your yard as the different trees grow festive flowers, then bright fruits at different times.
Remember Vines, Bushes and Small Trees
A few fruit trees can add color and flavor to your yard, but too many can overwhelm your landscape, turning it into a crowded orchard. Compliment a few tall fruit trees with lower-growing, fruit-bearing vines and bushes. Use nanking cherry bushes as small feature plants to divide up garden spaces, and strawberries, grapes or other vine fruit trees to decorate trellises. Use dwarf tree varieties as border plants for a garden and keep the larger trees in more open spaces where they won't crowd out your flowers.