Fruit Tree Guild Planting Dos and Don’ts

A linear fruit tree guild… a quick sketch of a planting scheme designed for a specific site.

Planting fruit trees can be a wonderful idea in many gardens. But whenever you consider planting a fruit tree, there are of course a wide range of things to think about. Creating a fruit tree guild is one of those things.

Of course, you need to think about the environmental conditions and where you live. And you need to consider the needs of the fruit trees you might place. You should also think about your own needs, and which fruits you actually like.

But another element in design is often overlooked. You should not think about fruit trees – or any plants for your garden – on their own. You also need to think about how they will combine with other plants you already have or plan to add to your space.

Ideally, fruit trees should become part of a broader ecosystem in your garden – one with functioning ecology, that is stable, resilient, and can maintain itself over time. Adding a guild of plants around your fruit tree can make a huge difference to space usage, outcomes and yield.

When Creating a Fruit Tree Guild You Should:

  • Select species which aid the fruit tree, and which can work in concert with one another.
  • Choose multiple plants to fill distinct ecosystem niches.
  • Consider species in all layers, from the canopy to the rhizosphere (and local wildlife).
  • Aim to obtain a yield, planting for your own benefit, as well as for the needs of the tree. (And remember other yields as well as edible ones.)
  • Be open to innovative design – fruit tree guilds don’t have to encircle a tree in a round shape – they can flow into other areas, or take a linear form, for example.

But There Are Some Fruit Tree Guild ‘Don’ts’ to Consider:

  • Don’t simply copy a guild planting example from elsewhere – design should always be specific to site as well as specific to tree type.
  • Don’t introduce species invasive in your area. Aid for a high percentage of native plants, using these to fill ecosystem niches wherever possible.
  • Plant for abundance, but don’t increase competition too much. Be sure to think about plant needs, roots and growth habits.

If you are wondering what to plant around fruit trees where you live, I can help you to develop planting plants for your guild, or for a larger forest garden. I can create full garden plans, or offer advice on specific elements. So please do get in touch.

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