Semi-dwarf apple trees grow to 15 feet in height and bear the same size apples as a larger tree.The best part of choosing the semi-dwarf tree over the standard tree is that the smaller tree will will bear fruit earlier than the larger apple trees, according to horticulturists with Ohio State University. The semi-dwarf tree is also easier to manage, due to its smaller stature. Plant your semi-dwarf apple tree as soon as the ground has thawed in early spring.
Choose the site in which you will plant your semi-dwarf apple tree. The location should get full sun all day and not be in a low-lying area where water stands after rain or irrigation.
Obtain a soil pH test. A soil sample delivered to your county cooperative extension office will yield an analysis that includes what amendments you should purchase to adjust the soil's pH. The semi-dwarf apple tree requires a pH of between 6.0 and 6.5.
Fill the bucket with water and place the roots of the bare-root tree in the water while you prepare the planting site.
Remove any weeds or turf from within a 3-foot radius of the planting area.
Amend the soil in the planting area by adding a 3-inch layer of compost to the soil and any amendments suggested by the soil pH test and use the gardening fork to mix them to a depth of 12 inches.
Dig a hole that is 2 inches shallower than the depth at which the tree has been growing. If you are planting a bare-root tree, look for the soil ring toward the lower end of the trunk. If the tree is potted, measure the pot and dig the hole 2 inches less than the depth of the pot. The hole should be twice the diameter of the pot or the root ball.
Place a mound of soil at the bottom of the hole. Place the roots of the tree on top of the mound and spread the roots over it so that they hang down and barely touch the soil at the bottom of the hole. Add or remove soil from the hole to make sure that the graft union (swollen area on the lower portion of the trunk where the tree was grafted) is 2 inches above the surface of the soil.
Pour soil over the roots until they are covered. Pour a 5-gallon bucket of water into the hole, allow it to drain, then finish filling the hole with soil. The water will help settle the soil around the roots and remove air pockets.
Use your feet to firm the soil around the base of the tree and remove any remaining air pockets.
Drive a stake into the ground, 6 inches from the semi-dwarf apple tree. Use soft strips of cloth to loosely tie the tree to the stake.
Water the semi-dwarf apple tree until the water puddles at the base of the tree.
Place a 3-inch layer of mulch in a 3-foot wide ring around the tree, keeping it 2 inches from the trunk.