Fruit trees are an excellent choice for the home landscape because of the many benefits they bring to a yard. You can enjoy a period of blooming beauty, followed by a harvest of delicious fruits. Such trees are best located away from walkways and driveways because of the fall of fruit and leaves. Placed strategically, you can leave the litter to decay and return organic matter to the soil, or you can collect and compost it.
The orchard is a traditional arrangement of large numbers of fruit trees. Regularly spaced and well-trimmed trees, even in smaller numbers, have a dramatic visual impact. A grouped planting assures that you will have sufficient opportunity for cross-pollination for fruits like apples, cherries and pears. The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension notes that not all combinations of varieties are compatible, so check the descriptions if you plan to plant a mix of varieties. The extension service also suggests dwarf varieties for home landscaping, as they need less space and tend to produce earlier.
Borders and Screens
Fruit trees make an attractive border or screen for yard boundaries. They can provide shade and reduce noise, and many varieties grow well in city lots. Crabapple and serviceberry--which offers both spring flowers and edible berries--are sized well for planting beneath power lines. According to the University of Tennessee Extension, fruit trees can be used to shade the southwest-facing side of the house to reduce the energy needed to cool your home. Bradford pears are a popular, fast-growing option that bring both fruit and flowers to the landscape. Bradford does not stand up well to storm or ice damage, so planting them can be a risk in areas prone to harsh weather.
An edible landscape is one that produces food in addition to function and beauty. Fruit trees are often capable of acting as a stand-alone specimen equally as well as a group planting. They can fit as part of an overall design to maximize food-producing potential in your space, or replace older plants and trees over time. Varieties are available that are disease resistant, dwarf and semi-dwarf to fit smaller spaces, and many are able to adapt to a range of soil and environmental conditions. Edible landscaping can include provisions for the needs of wildlife as well as humans. According to the University of Missouri Extension, hawthorn is a good specimen tree that produces flowers in spring and a crop of berries in fall that can help sustain bird populations.