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How to Care for Newly Planted Apple & Pear Trees

By Kelly Shetsky ; Updated September 21, 2017

Apples can be grown in many parts of the country and vary in size of fruit, taste, color and ripening time. Pears could be as plentiful as apples, except for the fact that they suffer from a bacterial disease called fire blight. All of the main varieties of pears are extremely prone to the disease, limiting commercial production to areas where there isn't much threat of fire blight and where the weather is reliable. According to WalterReeves.com, California seems to be the only place you can grow them commercially with success. Newly planted apple and pear trees benefit from annual pruning in mid to late winter, as well as fertilization and mulching.

Apple Trees

Cut newly planted apple trees so they are 24 to 28 inches above the ground. Remove any diseased, damaged or broken limbs right away. This will improve the tree's strength and form.

Choose the four strongest branches to keep in place. These will form what's called the scaffold whorl. They should be spaced evenly around the tree trunk. Cut off any other branches, including trunks that are competing with the main (central) one.

Fertilize apple trees in the spring. Apply 1 pound of balanced (10-10-10 ratio) fertilizer around the base of each tree in the first year of growth. Increase the amount with each subsequent year.

Thin the fruit to ensure the optimum crop. When the apples are the size of a dime, cut them off so that there are 4 to 6 inches of space between fruit. Leave one apple per cluster. This will yield a higher-quality fruit, free of disease problems.

Control grasses and weeds around the base of newly planted apple trees. Weeds steal nutrients and can slow down tree growth. Lay down 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the tree trunk. Put rodent guards around the base to keep them away from the tree. In the fall, pull the mulch away from the apple tree, creating a 1-foot mulch-free zone.

Pear Trees

Choose the branches that will create a central leader system on a newly planted pear tree. A central leader system has a main, upright tree trunk with lateral branches growing from it. There should be three or four strong branches, spaced out around the tree trunk evenly. It's okay if the branches have a narrow connection to the trunk because the weight of the fruit will bring them down slightly.

Cut off competing branches where they meet the main, upright trunk. Keep an eye out for dead or damaged branches, along with water sprouts that grow at the base of the tree. Cut them off where they meet other wood.

Water pear trees if nature isn't doing it for you. They need 1 inch per week, especially if it's dry and they're planted in sandy soil.

Hoe around the base of pear trees and remove weeks by hand. Lay down 2 to 3 inches of mulch.

Fertilize young pear trees with a balanced food of 10-10-10 (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium). Pour or sprinkle a half cup of the food in a 2-foot circle around the pear tree. Start it at least 6 inches away from the trunk.


Things You Will Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Water
  • Fertilizer
  • Hoe
  • Mulch


  • Use herbicides to keep weeds away from apple trees. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and keep the solution off the apple tree.
  • Harvest pears before they are completely ripe. They should still be soft to the touch.


  • Do not over-fertilize pear trees because overactive growth will make them more susceptible to fire blight.

About the Author


Based in New York State, Kelly Shetsky started writing in 1999. She is a broadcast journalist-turned Director of Marketing and Public Relations and has experience researching, writing, producing and reporting. She writes for several websites, specializing in gardening, medical, health and fitness, entertainment and travel. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.