Jan 28, 2024
Landscaping with fruits and nuts
Sports Editor Max Phelps While it is a fact some folks don’t want to deal with fallen fruit and nuts in the yard, nor colorful bird poop after they steal some of the smaller fruits and then ‘nature
While it is a fact some folks don’t want to deal with fallen fruit and nuts in the yard, nor colorful bird poop after they steal some of the smaller fruits and then ‘nature calls,’ there are some who don’t mind doing double duty by having both shade and fruit or hedges and fruit.
And, who knows, a few of the no-fruit people might change their minds if they read along.
For larger yard trees, typically its maples and Bradford pears we see on every city block, in practically every yard. (Did you know both produce a lot of pollen? and the maple trees that don’t produce seeds are worse for the allergy sufferer?)
Large trees to consider instead might include oaks, ginkgo, fruiting pears, crabapples that also have fruit big enough to use, black walnuts, white walnuts, hickories, pecans, chestnuts and American beech.
A pecan, chestnut, walnut, fruiting pear, plum, persimmon, or mulberry tree could just as easily provide shade, plus edible nuts and fruits for people and wildlife.
Full-sized apple trees on seedling or Antonovka rootstocks make a 30-foot tree, which someday might produce 10 or more bushels of apples per year for 10 or 25 years.
And, with careful selection, rather than grabbing a tree at the big box store, you can even find varieties of apples that will hold their fruits for several weeks after they are ripe, or even all winter for a few — unless a great big windstorm comes along, in which case all promises are off about hanging onto their fruit.
Some apples can be as pretty as flowering crab apples.
If you don’t have room for a shade tree, then you might replace a redbud or white dogwood with a kousa dogwood or cornelian cherry dogwood that have edible fruit and pretty blooms. Maybe a pawpaw tree or a cherry, persimmon, jujube or a peach. Or dwarf or simi-dwarf apples and pears.
Maybe serviceberries — they’re rather like blueberries on trees.
Here’s an idea.
Bud-9 and M-27 and G-41 dwarf roots produce apple trees no more than 6 to 8 feet tall. These little guys need staking, though.
Consider an espalier, or a hedgerow or cordon. A couple posts and wires to support the trees and plant them three feet apart like you would boxwoods or viburnum shrubs could give you a thick hedge ... loaded with lovely fruit you can pick with no ladder.
Wouldn’t look bad either — a cordon acting as a hedge with lots of apples for eating and cooking.
Pole apples are basically straight trunks, no limbs. This could be the ticket to fruit if you have a tiny yard, or even just a patio and room for a large container.
Of course, containers are not limited to apples.
A bed of blueberries, especially ones with red or yellow limbs that show in winter, with pink and white blooms in spring, and blue berries in June and July, would look nice.
And if you purchase blueberries from the supermarket, you realize they are a high value fruit — you could produce several pints from each bush in your yard.
For borders, how about a dwarf blueberry or a creeping raspberry or some strawberries?
For the hedge or screen, forsythia bush might be replaced with a honeyberry bush or highbush cranberry viburnum. A burning bush might be replaced with a dwarf cherry bush.
Most folks have seen contorted filberts, called Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick. Well, since hazelnuts need a second variety to cross pollinate, why not find a spot for a couple more hazelnuts and your contorted one will have one more added attraction.
There’s even a purple leafed variety.
Arbors and fences could be covered with grapes, goji berries, kiwi, passion flower vines, hops, or magnolia vines.
You might not have to give up your fall color with nuts and fruits either. Some apples have red or orange fall color, hickory trees have golden yellow, and some grapes have red leaves in the fall.
Everyone can find a spot for a couple blueberries or gooseberries. They’ll be right at home among sun chokes (Jerusalem artichokes which look like sunflowers), black-eyed-susans and echinacea.
Other edible cuties might include service berry bushes, or a raised bed filled with strawberry plants. Strawberries would look good most anywhere you would have a raised flower bed or a terraced wall with flowers just beyond it.
Cranberries, kinninnick (called bearberry), lingonberry, huckleberry and creeping Oregon grape also come to mind.
Oak trees drop nuts and sweet gum and sycamore drops stickyballs, so why not some pears or chestnuts?
And a full-sized apple tree can be limbed up like a maple, with fruits way up high and you can walk and mow under it’s limbs.
Should you have trouble finding a full sized apple, you can plant a dwarf one really deep so the graft union will be buried and the top part of the tree would put out roots just below the surface and become a full sized tree.
Look for a graft union just above the roots — for budded trees have the new variety a foot or more above the root and you don’t want to be planting your apple tree that deep.
Not every nut, not every apple or peach, just like not every maple, will make a perfect lawn tree.
But, there are good ones if you search them out. They may be old varieties your grandparents grew and are now hard to find.
Yellow delicious isn’t much to look at in the front yard. But, a Liberty or Arkansas Black or a Northwest Greening or Cornish Aromatic apple tree just might work. I know a well planned yard with fruits and nuts can work, for I’ve done it more than once over the years.
My hope is it will also work for some of my readers.
The author is a landscaper. Contact Max via website: rockcastles.net or (606) 416-3911
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