A fruit or nut tree is a gorgeous heirloom that brings added value no matter where they are. A well planted fruit or nut tree will provide you with the fresh, healthy produce that you can enjoy and share with your family for generations. Planting trees can be one of the most rewarding projects you can undertake at your home or in our community. Before you buy a tree, decide what kind of tree you want based on the desired spot and the light situation. Fruit and nut trees need lots of sun and a well draining soil. So be sure the desired spot has both of those traits.
It is important to call 8-1-1 before you plant a tree to make sure you do not damage any underground utilities. Once you are certain your chosen site is not on top of important cables or pipes, you are ready to start.
Carefully slide the mass of roots from the container. Remove the soil around the top of the root ball. Look for root circling or girdling, these twisted roots occur in container grown trees and they can stunt the tree’s growth. Straighten or prune away the circling or twisted roots to give the tree’s roots a fresh start in it’s new hole.
Dig a wide (approximately 2-3 times wider than the roots) hole that is only deep enough so the root ball is level with or slightly above the soil line. Do not plant too deep! Planting too deep can deprive the growing root system of oxygen. Straighten the tree in the hole. Get multiple perspectives to make sure it is actually straight.
Begin to back fill and firmly pack soil around the base of the root ball to help stabilize the tree. Begin gently filling in more and more soil, while watering throughout the entire planting process. Thoroughly watering helps to compact the air pockets in the planting hole. Let the water do most of the soil compaction and fill in and gently pack as needed. Do not fertilize at the time of planting. Build up a dam around the tree that is about 12″ wider than the root ball. This dam helps to hold water, and allows moisture to soak into the root zone. Most trees will not require stakes. In fact, trees that are not staked at the time of planting develop a stronger trunk and root system if they are not staked. Mulch around your tree, but do not mound it at the base like a volcano. Spread an even 3-4″ layer of mulch a few inches away from the base of the tree. The tree’s root system will spread outward, and this is the zone that needs mulch. After you have mulched, water your tree.
New tree plantings need about 15-20 gallons of water every week. However, if there is rain, check the soil above the root system to see if its moist. Only water when appropriate. Spread half an inch of compost under the canopy once a year.
Consistent watering is the key to success for any newly planted tree. New trees really do need 15-20 gallons of water every week for the first 2 years. Even native trees or trees billed as drought tolerant.
Below is a list of fruit and nut trees that can thrive in Austin, and don’t hesitate to ask us which variety would work best for your home.
Apple, Black Walnut, Che, Escarpment Black Cherry, Fig, Grape, Japanese Persimmon, Jujube, Kumquat, Loquat, Mexican Plum, Mulberry, Pawpaw, Peach, Pear, Pecan, Plum, Pomegranate, and Texas Persimmon.
The information in this article follows the City of Austin and Tree Folks guidelines to ensure the best outcome for the tree and the community. If you want to get more involved in urban forestry here in Austin, you should get in touch with Tree Folks. Tree Folks is an Austin non-profit that is responsible for mobilizing thousands of central Texans to plant over 2.8 million trees.
Another fantastic resource for planting food trees is the Festival Beach Food Forest. They operate a community forest of food trees as well as a fantastic community garden on Waller street.