Blackberries and raspberries (Rubus spp.) are popular small-fruit crops grown in home landscapes. They are small bush-like vines that can grow in most climates. Raspberry and blackberry bushes take some work and maintenance to produce fruits and grow healthy, but you’ll be rewarded with an abundance of berries each year. Planting raspberries and blackberries also requires some advanced preparation, as these plants require certain nutrients and soil characteristics in order to thrive. A wide array of raspberry and blackberry species and cultivated varieties are available, some of which are higher maintenance and less cold-hardy than others, so you’ll need to select the right variety for your climatic region.
Choose a planting location for your blackberries and raspberries that’s in full sunlight. An ideal planting site will have well-draining, fertile, sand loam soil.
Test the soil pH at the planting location using a test kit or by taking a sample for testing to your local agricultural extension office. Apply ground limestone to the soil to increase the pH if necessary to achieve an optimal soil pH of 5.6 to 6.2.
Prepare the planting bed for the raspberries and blackberries by loosening the soil to a depth of 6 to 12 inches using a rototiller or tilling fork. Spread a 2-inch-thick layer of well-rotted manure or organic compost over the soil bed and mix it into the soil during the fall of the year prior to planting the bushes.
Scatter 25 lbs. of a 10-10-10 NPK formula fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of planting bed in early spring, just before planting the blackberry and raspberry bushes. Mix the fertilizer into the soil and break up any soil clumps by tilling the soil again.
Plant the raspberries and blackberries in spring, after all danger of hard frosts or freezes has passed. Dig planting holes for your raspberry and blackberry bushes that are twice the width of and slightly deeper than the root balls. Space the raspberry planting holes about 2 to 4 feet apart in rows that are 8 to 12 feet apart.
Set the raspberry and blackberry shrubs’ root balls in the planting holes and backfill with the displaced soil. Firm down the soil around the roots using your hands, and then water the soil deeply and thoroughly to soak the root balls.
Erect a T-trellis system for the raspberries by inserting a 4-inch-by-4-inch wooden post that’s about 5 to 6 feet tall on either end of each row, driving the posts about 2 feet into the ground. Nail cross arms that are 3 ½ feet long at a height of 3 ½ to 4 ½ feet high on each post. Attach heavy-gauge wires along the length of the row and secure them to the cross arms, with a wire on either side of the posts. The trellis system helps to support the raspberry plants when they're fruiting and provides something for them to climb upon as they grow.