How To Plant Fruit Trees (And Bravely Prune Them)

plum blossomPut a $10 tree in a $20 hole!


  • Dig a 20 litre hole
  • If you are on clay, puncture the bottom of your hole by pushing your garden fork in as far as it will go
  • If you are on sand line the bottom of your hole with wet newspaper
  • Mix the original soil 50/50 with compost


  • If your tree is in a bag sit it in a bucket of water/ liquid feed until bubbles no longer appear
  • If your tree is bare rooted, use the 50/50 soil mix to create a hump for the roots to sit on
  • Sit the tree on the hump, making sure the graft is above the soil line and the roots are all heading downwards. If any roots are too long for the hole trim them to fit.
  • Backfill the hole pushing the soil/compost mix in so there are no air gaps and the tree is in firmly.
  • Give the tree a good tug to be sure it’s firmly in the hole.

Feed And Water

  • Work  a handful of Rock Solid and gypsum into the top soil
  • Water well to further settle any air pockets around the roots then top up with soil if need be.
  • Give a liquid feed of seaweed
  • Mulch


For best root development and the end goal of an independent, resilient tree – your tree needs to move about a bit in the wind. This is especially important if your tree is in a windy spot.

Bang in a stake about 200mm away from the trunk and firmly, but not rigidly tied with a soft stocking tie. If you bandage your tree up and make your stake a replacement spine you’ll end up with a weak tree – poor root development and unable to stand on its own.

Please do take off any ties/ labels. Leaving them on is tree cruelty.

Dwarf rootstocks are the only ones that need a permanent stake. All others need to stand on their own two feet – remove the stake after 2 years.

planted and pruned

Prune It

Cut your tree at hip height or about 1m, above a bud. Gasp! I know you’ll find this hard, but this easy, simple cut is what is going to have your tree be reachable, compact and full of fruit in a small space. So go on – be brave. (If your tree is close to this height already – just leave it be)

You can keep well placed feathers (branches) or remove them – up to you. If you remove them, the new ones that grow will all be of the same age and have good balance



  1. Really appreciate your posts.

  2. Hi Kath,

    I’ve been meaning for ages to drop by your blog and leave a comment thanking you for your articles. Your website has been an excellent source of aid as I get our little property underway producing fruit and vegetables for our young family. Whenever I have a specific vege or fruit question, or need a refresher, I check here first, and most often you have a great article on the topic. This has been our second year of gardening our little place – a flogged out corner of an old farm – pretty rough paddock which we are slowly taming – and we had a great harvest of 60kg of spuds, 6kg of yams, probably 50kg of tomatoes, heaps and heaps of other greens, beans, zucchini, herbs and fruit. I put that down not as a brag, but as a thank you – you’re making a real difference and helping people have confidence to steward the land and grow healthy food. Thanks heaps! 🙂 🙂