Apple tree spacing guide

Are you about to plant some apple trees on your property, but you aren’t sure how far to space them? A lot goes into the spacing of apple trees, so make sure you do your research before placing them in the soil. Here is the apple tree spacing guide.

Here are some common traditional spacing distances for apple trees:

  • Dwarf apple trees: 8-10 feet apart
  • Semi-dwarf apple trees: 12-15 feet apart
  • Standard and own-root apple trees: 20-30 feet apart

Fruit trees can be particular about placement and soil quality, so plant your fruit trees accordingly. You want your apple trees to prosper and produce fruit year after year, so take all of the tips into consideration.

Continue reading to learn more about fruit tree spacing and how to plant apple trees.

Apple tree spacing guide

How far apart should you plant apple trees?

Dwarf apple trees are typically planted 8-10 feet apart, as most varieties get 8-10 feet tall and wide. Semi-dwarf apple trees are typically planted 12-15 feet apart, as they are more likely to grow 12-15 feet wide. Standard apple trees are planted more like 20-30 feet apart.

In high-density orchards, specialty dwarf and semi-dwarf apple trees are spaced 2-3 feet apart and trained on posts and wires. This close spacing requires quite a bit of initial training, a support system (often post and wire), and regular pruning.

Consider your personal space before deciding which type of apple trees to plant or purchase. How much room you have on your lot or in your garden plays a big role in how far you space your trees. Planting fruit trees in an orchard differs from planting a few in the backyard.

“The spacing of trees depends on the rootstock, the cultivar, and the richness of the soil and availability of water. All these factors should be considered before deciding on your spacing.”

Hardy Apples: Growing Apples in Cold Climates, by Bob Osborne

Choosing a location for planting apple trees

Wherever you decide to plant your apple trees, make sure there is plenty of opportunity for cross-pollination. The trees should be planted in a spot with plenty of good sunlight and rich soil.

Space the fruit trees according to their rootstock tag recommendations to ensure surrounding plants won’t interfere with their growth. You’ll also want to put different varieties that are compatible “pollination partners” close to each other for the bees (typically within 100 feet, if not much closer). Also, consider leaving space for future planting if you wish to add to your space over time.

Golden delicious apples

Which apple trees are self-pollinating?

Cross-pollination is a wonderful thing when it comes to fruit trees and citrus trees. Sometimes this isn’t an option, though, and you have to rely on self-pollinating trees.

There are relatively few apple trees that are self-pollinating and will make your life easier as you grow the tasty fruit.

Apple trees that are somewhat self-pollinating include:

Can you plant different fruit trees beside each other?

Yes, you can typically plant different types of fruit trees next to each other, and you can plant different varieties of the same species together.

Fruit trees – especially apples – can do extremely well when planted near other varieties of the same species that flower at the same time. This allows for cross-pollination, which is vital for fruit set in most apple varieties.

Add a variety of delicious fruit options to your garden and space the trees as needed. You’ll have a lovely backyard orchard full of amazing produce if you follow this apple tree spacing guide!

What happens if you plant apple trees too close together?

When you plant your fruit trees too closely together, the tree canopies will crowd each other out as they compete for light. You can plant semi-dwarf trees as close as 2 feet apart if you train them into a “spindle” orchard, but unless you are dedicated to specialty training, stick to the spacing recommended on the tag as it will be specific to the rootstock used on that tree.

Apple tree spacing guide

Apple tree spacing guide for trees rows

As you think about how to space your rows of fruit trees, think about how tall your trees will be. If your trees will max out at 15 feet, space your trees 15 feet in between each row. Add an additional 3 to 5 feet if you can to give them maximum space (and access to sunlight).

The spacing you use also depends on how large of a walkway you need and whether you need equipment to fix between the trees. This includes lawnmowers, wagons, trucks, and more. This is a general rule for apple tree spacing guide information.

What should not be planted near apple trees or other fruit trees?

Many fruit trees do just fine when planted near one another, but some need to be kept far apart. When you go to plant fruit trees, consider the following.

  • Do not plant apples or apricots with peppers or walnuts.
  • Avoid planting blackberries, nectarine trees, or pears with raspberries.
  • Keep blueberries, cherries, corn, grapes, and melons away from tomatoes and eggplants.
  • Peach trees don’t do well with plums or raspberries.

FAQs about spacing your apple trees

How far apart should I space apple trees when planting them?

The spacing of apple trees depends on the size of the trees and the type of rootstock they are grafted onto. Dwarf apple trees, which are grafted onto dwarfing rootstocks, should be spaced 8-12 feet apart. Semi-dwarf apple trees, which are grafted onto semi-dwarf rootstocks, should be spaced 12-15 feet apart. Standard apple trees, which are grafted onto standard rootstocks, should be spaced 20-30 feet apart.

Why is proper spacing important for apple trees?

Proper spacing is important for apple trees because it allows the trees to grow and develop properly without being crowded. Crowded trees are more susceptible to pests and diseases, and may produce smaller and lower quality fruit. Spacing apple trees appropriately also makes it easier to care for the trees and harvest the fruit.

Can I plant apple trees closer together if I prune them regularly?

Planting apple trees closer together and relying on regular pruning to control their size is not recommended. While pruning can help to control the size and shape of apple trees, it cannot compensate for the lack of space and resources that the trees need to grow and produce fruit. Planting apple trees too close together can lead to reduced fruit production and overall poor tree health.

Can I plant apple trees in a container?

It is possible to grow apple trees in containers, but it is important to choose a large enough container to accommodate the tree’s root system. A container that is at least 20 gallons in size is recommended for a dwarf apple tree, and a container that is at least 30 gallons in size is recommended for a semi-dwarf or standard apple tree. Make sure to use a well-draining soil mix and water the tree regularly to keep the soil evenly moist. Fertilize the tree with a balanced fertilizer according to the instructions on the package.

Can I plant multiple apple trees in the same hole?

It is generally not recommended to plant multiple apple trees in the same hole. Apple trees have a large root system and need plenty of room to grow and develop properly. Planting multiple trees in the same hole can lead to competition for resources and may result in reduced fruit production and overall poor tree health. It is best to plant each apple tree in a separate hole, spaced appropriately according to the size of the tree and the type of rootstock it is grafted onto.


Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a quintessential Canadian gardener. An engineer by trade, she tends to an ever-expanding collection of plants. In her world, laughter blooms as freely as her flowers, and every plant is raised with a dash of Canadian grit.

Mary Jane is a certified Master Gardener and also holds a Permaculture Design Certificate. She's also a proud mom of three, teaching her little sprouts the crucial difference between a garden friend and foe.

When she's not playing in the dirt, Mary Jane revels in her love for Taylor Swift, Gilmore Girls, ice hockey, and the surprisingly soothing sounds of bluegrass covers of classic hip-hop songs. She invites you to join her garden party, a place where you can share in the joy of growing and where every day is a new opportunity to find the perfect spot for yet another plant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *