Raising Apple Trees


When choosing the type of apple trees to grow in a small home orchard, most people choose dwarf trees. The advantage is that since they do not grow as tall as a standard apple tree, they are easier to prune and harvest. Dwarf trees for most varieties of apples, such as Granny Smith and Golden Delicious, are available at most garden centers, garden nurseries and online from various retailers. The trees you choose should be at least a year old for best results.

Step 1

Dig two holes, approximately 16 feet apart that are twice as large as the root balls of your selected apple trees.

Step 2

Place each root ball in the center of the hole and backfill the hole 2/3 full with the removed dirt. Allow the root union-the knob on the truck where the tree has been grafted-to remain 1 to 2 inches above the soil level.

Step 3

Soak in 1 to 2 gallons of water, and fill in the remaining dirt, still keeping the root union well above the soil level. Pack the soil down with the back of the shovel or stomp with your feet.

Step 4

Position a tree stake several inches from the tree trunk. Bury the stake up to a foot into the soil. Tie the trunk to the stake using plant tape or old pantyhose legs.

Step 5

Wrap 3-foot high wire mesh around the trunks in a circle. This will prevent moles, rats or mice from gnawing on the young trunks.

Step 6

Fertilize the trees by applying 10-10-10 fertilizer approximately 24 inches from the trunk and watering the tree to allow the fertilizer to soak into the soil.

Step 7

Prune the trees in February or March before the first leave buds begin to appear. Remove any limbs that are suckers or do not follow your desired shape for the trees.

Step 8

Spray the trees with dormant spray, available at any garden center, in late November or early December, during the second year of growth.

Step 9

Thin the fruit that appears on the trees to no more than one apple every six inches on the limbs.

Step 10

Continue to prune to retain the shape in the late winter and early spring, and thin the fruit from the trees to minimize limb breakage.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 1-year-old apple trees
  • Shovel
  • Garden hose
  • 10-10-10 fertilizer
  • Tree stakes
  • Plant tape
  • Wire mesh
  • Pruning shears
  • Dormant spray
  • Insecticidal fruit tree spray


  • Oregon State Extension: The Cost to Raise a Fruit Tree (PDF)
  • University of New Hampshire Extension: Dwarf Apple Trees for the Home Garden (PDF)
Keywords: raise apple trees, growing apple trees, home apple trees

About this Author

G. K. Bayne is a freelance writer, currently writing for Demand Studios where her expertise in back-to-basics, computers and electrical equipment are the basis of her body of work. Bayne began her writing career in 1975 and has written for Demand since 2007.