Fruit tree planting distances guide

This guide helps you to calculate the distances you should allow between your fruit trees. Spacings are primarily determined by the vigour of the rootstock you are using - from very-dwarfing rootstocks which produce very small trees, to very vigorous rootstocks which produce very large trees.

The 10m / 30ft lengths that we have used as examples are the same as two large estate cars parked nose to tail with a gap between them. There are further notes below the table.

Very-dwarf rootstocks


Apple tree spacing diagram using M27 very-dwarf rootstocks

Apple - M27


Distance between trees: 1.5m 5ft
Spread: 1.5m 5ft


It is easy to envisage how much space trees on very-dwarfing rootstocks will take up - it is about the same as a person with their arms slightly out-stretched.

Dwarf rootstocks


Fruit tree spacing diagram using dwarf rootstocks such as M9

Apple - M9
Plum - VVA1
Pear - Quince C


Distance between trees: 2.5m - 3m
Spread: 2.5m


The apple M9 rootstock is very productive, the trees are small and easy to manage, and are capable of producing a lot of apples in a small space.

Semi-dwarf rootstocks


Fruit tree spacing diagram using semi-dwarf rootstocks

Apple - M26, M116
Plum - Pixy
Cherry - Gisela 5


Distance between trees: 3m - 3.5m
Spread: 3.5m


A good choice for the community orchard or for individual trees in a smaller garden.

Semi-vigorous rootstocks


Fruit tree spacing diagram using semi-vigorous rootstocks

Apple - MM106, MM111/M9 interstem
Plum - St. Julien
Pear - Quince A
Cherry - Gisela 6


Distance between trees: 3.5m - 4m
Spread: 4m


A good choice for the community orchard or for individual trees in a larger garden, and staking is usually not required once the trees are established.

Vigorous rootstocks


Fruit tree spacing diagram using vigorous rootstocks

Apple - MM111
Pear - Pyrodwarf
Cherry - Colt


Distance between trees: 4.5m - 5m
Spread: 4.5m


In this category, cherries and pears are usually larger than apples.

Very vigorous rootstocks


Fruit tree spacing diagram using very vigorous rootstocks

Apple - M25
Plum - Brompton
Pear - Pyrus communis
Cherry - F12/1


Distance between trees: 6m - 8m 20ft - 25ft
Spread: 5.5m+


Generous spacings are needed for these vigorous rootstocks, but they offer the visual appeal of the traditional orchard.



Notes

These spacings are just a rough guide, please contact us if you need further guidance.

Spacing between trees

In commercial orchards trees are often planted very close together to maximise the use of space, and many published guides use these commercial spacings.

In a garden situation things are not as clear-cut. Sometimes you want to know a precise spacing to fit a tree into an existing gap between other shrubs. Other times you may want to treat the spacings as a minimum, because you want the more spacious effect that comes with having a clear gap between your trees. In general very small trees will look equally good with or without space between the trees depending on the effect you want to achieve, whereas larger trees often look more of a feature if you have a space between them.

In either case, the spacing is measured from stem to stem of each tree. If planting several trees, mark the position of each tree with bamboo canes to check the spacing before you start to dig the holes.

Spacing between rows

Our diagrams are intended to illustrate the spacings in a garden situation where there is usually no need to differentiate the rows and columns of the planting pattern, and the main requirement is simply to see how many trees will fit in an available space.

If you are planting a small orchard then many other factors come into play. For example you will probably want to maintain a space between rows of trees for ease of access. As a rule of thumb this might be 1.5 x the spacing that you have chosen for trees within the row.

It is always a good idea to measure out your planting area, using bamboo canes to mark the desired spacings.

Vigour of the variety

Although the vigour of the rootstock has the biggest impact on the size of the mature tree and therefore the space it needs, the vigour of the grafted variety should also be taken into account. The table above assumes a variety of average vigour grown in reasonable soil conditions.

For vigorous varieties (such as the well-known Bramley apple) allow at least 10%-15% more space per tree.

For weak-growing varieties you can allow perhaps 10% less space per tree.

Trees growing in difficult conditions (e.g. poor soil, or windy sites) will also be smaller.

Tree height estimator

Our experimental tree height calculator takes into account soil, climate, rootstock and other factors to provide an estimate of the mature height and size of a fruit tree.