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How to Plant Apple Trees

By Katelyn Lynn ; Updated September 21, 2017
Apple trees require a sunny location.
Apple-tree image by zalisa from Fotolia.com

Apple trees are adaptable to a wide variety of soil types and growing conditions. Like most fruit trees, growing apple trees successfully requires a commitment to regular care and maintenance. But once apple trees are established in the home garden you can be rewarded with a bountiful harvest of sweet, juicy apples. When choosing what apple trees to plant, choose varieties that are suited to your growing region.

Choose a sunny location for planting the apple trees. The ideal location should provide as much morning sunshine as possible, to reduce the likelihood of disease, according to Ohio State University.

Turn over the soil in the planting location down to a depth of between 12 and 18 inches. Eliminate any rocks, sticks, weeds and roots as you cultivate the soil.

Amend the soil in the planting area according to the type of soil. Spread out a 2- to 3-inch layer of dehydrated plant-based compost or peat moss over the soil in the planting area, if the soil is sandy or light. Spread out a 2- to 3-inch layer of wood chips or hardwood bark if the soil is clay-like or heavy. Mix the amendment into the soil thoroughly.

Dig planting holes twice the width of the pots, and approximately 1 1/2 times their depth, if planting from 1-gallon planting pots. Dig holes three times the width and twice the depth if planting from 5-gallon pots. If planting bare-root apple trees, dig the holes 1 1/2 times the width and precisely the same depth of the root system. Space each of the holes between 25 and 30 feet apart for standard variety apple trees, and between 12 and 15 feet apart for dwarf varieties.

Set the roots of the apple trees in a bucket of water to soak for two to three hours, if planting bare-root apple trees.

Remove the apple trees from their growing containers. For 1-gallon pots, tip the pot horizontally on the ground, or a potting bench, if you have one. Tap down along the rim using a hammer, or a stout piece of wood. Slide the pot from the root system once the pot begins to loosen. If planting from 5-gallon pots, cut along the sides of the pot down to the bottom of the pot. Pull back the pot from the root system.

Set an apple tree into one of the previously created planting holes. Make sure the bud union is sitting about 2 to 3 inches above the topsoil. The bud union is indicated by a small nodule, or swelling where the stem meets the top of the root system.

Scoop in a few shovelfuls of soil to secure the apple tree in the planting hole. Inspect to ensure it is sitting level and straight in the planting hole. Scoop in soil slowly until the hole is one-half full, firming it down with your foot as you proceed. Pour in 2 to 3 gallons of water then fill the remainder of the hole full of soil once the water has dissipated.


Things You Will Need

  • Apple trees
  • Spade
  • Compost, peat moss, wood chips or hardwood bark
  • Bucket
  • Snips


  • Water freshly planted apple trees at the rate of 2 to 3 gallons per tree every two to three weeks.

About the Author


Katelyn Lynn has been writing health and wellness articles since 2007. Her work appears on various websites. Lynn is a certified holistic health practitioner who specializes in orthomolecular medicine and preventative modalities. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in health sciences from TUI University and has extensive experience in botany and horticulture.