Growing fruit trees, such as apple or peach trees, in your yard naturally adds attractiveness to your landscape, as well as provides a crop of tasty fruits a few seasons after planting. Fruit tree foliage is often ornamental, and the trees' beautiful blossoms typically emit sweet-smelling fragrances. You can choose between pome fruit trees (apples and pears) or stone fruit trees, such as peaches, cherries, plums, apricots and nectarines. Caring for peach, apple and other fruit trees requires essentially the same maintenance procedures except when it comes time for pruning.
Select peach or apple tree varieties suited for your specific USDA Hardiness Zone for best results. Grow self-pollinating cultivars (if possible), or plant more than one variety to ensure pollination.
Plant fruit trees in spring, after the last chance of a freeze passes. Pick a location providing enough space for the full size of a mature tree, which will vary depending on the variety of peach or apple you select. Inquire about this information when purchasing your fruit trees. Select growing sites with well-draining soil and full sun.
Clear the planting area of any foliage, rocks or debris, making it at least two times the width of the apple or peach tree's root ball. Dig a hole a few inches less than the container's depth. This will result in the fruit tree's graft union remaining 2 to 3 inches above ground level, which is critical when planting grafted fruit trees.
Remove the fruit tree from its container and inspect the root ball. Cut off any frail or broken roots, then place the peach or apple tree carefully in the hole. Check the graft union and add additional soil to the hole, if needed, to adjust height. Backfill the hole partway, lightly firm the soil, then finish filling the hole.
Pour 2 to 5 gallons of water slowly around the newly planted apple or peach tree. Add more soil if you can see the root ball after watering. Continue to supply 5 gallons of water weekly to the fruit tree until fall if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week.
Cut the trees back to a height ranging from 30 to 36 inches above the soil. Apple trees are trained with a central (cone-shaped) leader, which calls for two or three branches to develop that form the scaffold branches of the apple tree. Train peach trees as (vase-shaped) open-center, which requires you to remove any center branches and keep three to five main scaffold branches. Cut away any damage branches or suckers appearing on the trunk at any time for all growing fruit trees.
Apply a basic fertilizer, like 10-10-10, two weeks after planting the peach or apple tree. Spread the fertilizer around the tree as directed, keeping the fertilizer at least a half-foot clear of the trunk. Saturate with water after fertilizing.
Cover the area, extending 2 to 3 feet around the fruit tree, with at least 3 inches of mulch, keeping the mulch 6 inches clear of the peach or apple tree's trunk. The mulch will prevent weeds from growing in the area. Use a rake to lightly cultivate the soil and control weed growth if mulch is not used.