Fruit trees serve a dual purpose in the landscape by offering fragrant blooms in the spring and juicy fruit in the fall. Even the smallest yard can accommodate at least one fruit tree. There are many factors to consider when you purchase fruit trees, such as size, variety and climate. Before grabbing any old apple tree from the nursery, plan the purchase to make the investment worth the money spent.
Determine the hardiness zone and climate in which you live. The United States and Canada have been divided into 11 different growing zones based on temperature, but they don't take into consideration existing microclimates. You must determine the conditions under which the fruit trees will grow. Include temperature, moisture levels, length of the growing season and soil conditions when selecting fruit trees.
Select a variety of fruit tree that grows well in your area and which you like to eat. The tree will stand in the garden neglected unless you like the fruit it produces. You also get a good return on your investment by canning, freezing or eating fresh fruit off the tree.
Choose a tree size you are comfortable with harvesting. Standard trees can reach heights of 30 feet or more. Semidwarf trees bear almost as much fruit but generally get no higher than 15 feet. Dwarf trees reach heights of 10 to 12 feet. The big difference is that standard trees produce fruit 5 to 8 years after planting, while dwarf and semidwarf trees produce fruit 2 to 3 years after planting.
Check the selected fruit tree for pollination requirements. Peach trees are self-pollinating, and you only need one. However, other trees, such as apple and pear, need cross-pollination and require two trees to produce fruit.
Research chilling requirements of the fruit trees. Most fruit trees have a set number of days the temperature must be below 45 degrees F for them to bloom and set fruit. These days are measured in "chill hours." The chill hours range anywhere from 100 to 1,000 for certain varieties. Unless you live in the deep south or near the coast, chilling requirements are easy to reach for most trees.