How to Plant an Apple Tree


Fruit-producing trees make a wonderful addition to any landscape, adding color, shape and fragrance. Apple trees come alive with colorful blossoms in the spring and produce bushels of apples in the fall, and since a wide variety of sizes are available, it's easy to find one to fit any size yard. With a long life expectancy, many apples will produce fruit for more than 50 years. Apple trees are a worthy choice for colder growing zones since they need a period of cold temperatures for their growth cycle to continue.

Step 1

Choose a location with unobstructed sun throughout the day. A sheltered location such as next to a building may be necessary if you have high winds in your area. A windbreak of evergreens also can provide protections for young trees. Plant apple trees in late fall or early spring, as soon as the ground is pliable.

Step 2

Amend the soil if necessary to make sure it is light and well-drained. For heavy soil, mix in peat moss before planting. If planting in a grassy area, cut away a four-foot diameter of grass so that the grass will not compete with the tree for nutrients and water.

Step 3

Dig a hole that is twice the size of the width and depth of the root ball. Remove the tree from the container, or if wrapped in a burlap sack, undo the sack but do not remove completely. Place the tree in the hole and make sure the top of the root ball sits about two inches above the ground surface. Spread out the roots so they are not cramped and twisted up, allowing them to spread out into the soil as the tree grows.

Step 4

Backfill the hole with soil, tamping down hard as you fill the hole to avoid any air pockets. Continue filling the hole with the soil to ground level and tamp down well.

Step 5

Water the tree deeply after planting. Keep moist when watering but do not let the soil become waterlogged. Water newly planted trees about twice a week for two weeks until well-established. After that, water once a week.

Step 6

Apply a layer of mulch around the newly planted tree to help the soil retain moisture for the first growing season. After the first year, mulch is not needed but can still be used if desired.

Step 7

Stake your tree to prevent the tender trunk from bending in high winds. Place a two-by-two-inch stake in the ground beside the tree at planting time and tie the tree trunk to the stake.

Step 8

Fertilize the apple tree with a 1-1-1 low-nitrogen fertilizer after planting. A slow-release, water-soluble type is the best to use. Fertilizer again in the fall or early winter the first year. For the second and subsequent years, fertilize in the fall or early winter only.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not plant in low -ying areas that collect water or are slow to drain in spring.

Things You'll Need

  • Peat moss
  • Manure or low-nitrogen fertilizer


  • Backyard Gardener
  • Step-by-Step Successful Gardening Book
Keywords: apple trees, planting growing, gardening

About this Author

Amy Hannaford works as a medical assistant in Southern Oregon. She has been writing online articles about health and gardening since 2008. Hannaford holds an Associate of Arts and taught childbirth classes from 1993-2010. She enjoys researching nutrition and perfecting her gardening skills.