Raspberries and blackberries produce an abundant supply of small fruits on shrub-like growth, which makes them suitable for many home landscapes. The fruits are very similar, though raspberries tend to be more tart while blackberries are sweet and juicy. Raspberries, unlike blackberries, are also hollow inside. Both fruits have similar care requirements and are often grown together, though raspberries are more cold hardy than many blackberry varieties. Proper care begins at planting and ensures the shrubs remain productive for many years.
Perform a soil test to determine soil pH on a full-sun, well-drained site prior to planting. Follow the testing directions within the kits, which are available from garden centers and extension offices. Blackberries and raspberries require a soil pH between 5.5 and 6.5.
Spread 5 lbs. of dolomitic lime over every 100 square feet of planting site to lower the pH. Apply 1 lb. of ground sulfur per 100 square feet to raise the pH. Work the sulfur or limestone into the planting bed at least two weeks, and preferably an entire season, before planting.
Dig the planting hole to the same depth as the rootball, but slightly wider. Space blackberries 2 to 4 feet apart in rows that are 3 to 5 feet wide. Plant raspberries 2 to 4 feet apart in rows that are 8 feet apart.
Remove the pot or plastic covering from the plant's roots, then set it in the hole so the blackberry or raspberry is sitting at the same depth in the bed that it was growing in the pot. Fill in around the rootball with soil, then firm the soil in place around the plant.
Cut the cane of the shrub down to a 6-inch height after planting. Water thoroughly, moistening the top 8 inches of the soil.
Train the plants to a T-trellis system, which consists of two posts with a wire running between them 4 feet above the ground. Blackberries require a post next to each plant. Tie raspberry canes to the wires between the posts, and tie blackberries directly to a post.
Water the shrubs once weekly, providing enough moisture to wet the top 6 to 8 inches of soil. Provide additional water during extended periods of drought; no additional irrigation is necessary if more than 1 inch of rain falls during the week.
Spread a 2-inch layer of mulch under the plants and in the space between rows. Mulch prevents most weed growth, but pull weeds that make it through the mulch immediately as blackberries and raspberries do not tolerate competition.
Fertilize the shrubs in early spring just as new growth begins. Apply 6 lbs. of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100-foot row. Apply the fertilizer at least 6 inches away from the stems and avoid getting it on the foliage, as fertilizer may cause burning.
Prune raspberries and blackberries in fall after the harvest is complete. Remove any canes that just finished fruiting; raspberries and blackberries fruit on the previous year's canes, and they only fruit on any given cane once.
About this Author
Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.