Fruit trees are an attractive way to landscape your property while creating a large harvest of fruit that you can preserve for the coming seasons. For gardeners with small lots, there are dwarf fruit trees that will fit easily into a 10-foot area. Owners of large pieces of land can spread out and experiment with different varieties of their favorite fruits. There are fruits that will thrive in every area of the country, no matter how warm it is or how short your growing season.
There are dozens of apple tree varieties for the home gardener, with both full-sized and dwarf species, and hundreds of types of apples worldwide. Some are very rare heirloom apples grown only on a small number of sites and others, like Granny Smith, Delicious and McIntosh are known virtually everywhere in the country. Apple trees must be planted with another apple for pollination, and standard trees will start to produce fruit in four to eight years from planting.
Cherry trees are a popular choice with home gardeners. There are two types of cherry, tart and sweet. The tart variety grows farther north, in USDA Plant Hardiness zones 4 to 6, while sweet cherries do better in zones 5 to 7. Cherries will pollinate themselves, so you don't have to plant another tree with them. One standard-sized cherry tree with produce up to 50 quarts of cherries in a season.
Sweet oranges are the most widely grown kind of citrus fruit. They grow best in subtropical areas like Florida, Texas and California. Orange trees don't normally require pruning, saving the home grower on labor. The most critical danger for your orange tree is frost, but watering the soil before a frost can help to hold in the heat and reduce frost damage. Oranges should be picked when they are completely ripe, as they won't ripen any more after they've been picked.