I need suggestions about fruit tree types, number and planting location for my backyard, please :)


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Hi all. My first post here. Zero experience with fruit trees.
I have this vacant backyard as you can see below, which I hope to turn into a fruit orchard.
Please see the additional info on the right side of the figure below for more info. What I need help with is to plan the orchard, in terms of the species of trees to plant, their ideal location, and number. I wish to have the maximum number and species possible and can spend at least five hours/week tending to the orchard.
I know This may be asking for too much but it would be most helpful for me if someone could edit this figure to include the name and location of trees.
Apart from that, some specific questions:
1) how to best use the narrow rectangle by the right-side fence where it says "row of perennials." Can I grow berries there?
2) do I need at least two varies of each tree species for pollination purposes?
3) Should I get dwarf trees even if I can prune to keep the tree's size manageable?
4) Would I be right to set up trellises by the N, NE, or SE fences for grapes?
5) Can I plant any fruit trees in the sunlight-less space behind the garage?
6) Is it worth having a professional aggressively prune the large tree to increase sunlight?

backyard plan.jpg



sun path:
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This shows 4 pm sunlight on the grass on June 10, 2021:
thumbnail.jpg


The large tree:
thumbnail 1.jpg
 

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@SfromKY Nice work on laying out this post.

We're in almost similar zones but I am shifted a bit colder.

You sound like you're one year behind me but with more neighbors and a little less space.

You have your planting order listed. So that knocks off my first question. What do you want to eat?

What is that big tree if it is a walnut it may make some things difficult. As walnuts produce allelopathic compounds (link) that inhibit the growth of other plants.

Really think about your layout. I am trying to do a "stealth suburban permiculture food forest / orchard". I want my yard to feel and look like a nicely landscaped area NOT a commercial orchard. Think training grapes over a patio pergola rather than in a "traditional" wire row trellis.

Since I moved here in May 2020 I have planted:
  • 6 apples (Honey Crisp, Fireside, McIntosh, Wolf River, Cortland, Candy Crisp)
  • 2 Peaches (Contender, Red Haven)
  • Sweet Cherry (Stella)
  • 2 Tart Cherry (Montmorecy, North Star)
  • 2 Pears (D'Anjou, Bosc)
  • 1 Carpathian Walnut
  • 13 Blueberry bushes (Bluecrop, Jersey, Elliot)
  • Strawberries
  • Hardy Kiwi
  • Raspberry
From what I have read and watched vids on - you don't have to only get dwarf or semi dwarf if you prune them and stay on the pruning.
This vid was pretty good about backyard orchard pruning and is one source I have for not needing dwarf rootstock:

I live in a major commercial fruit growing area and looking at the orchards the modern idea is to plant apples, cherries, peaches, and pears about 6' apart and prune heavily. Most orchards now don't let hand picked fruit trees get above 7 feet tall.

By planting "too close" together the trees will merge into each other and bees won't even know they hopped from one tree to the next and better pollinate them. This is supported by trials Purdue University did with Cherry farmers near Traverse City Michigan. The take away from that study was planting too close gave about 25% better fruit set and yield.

Are you up for learning about top work grafting? You'll be able to get more varieties growing in a tiny area.

Two things working against you:
That big tree may shade much of your yard through the day.
Everyone wants to plant fruit trees right now so the supply is about zero
Mid summer is one of the hardest / worst times to plant a new tree

What plants can you source locally? I don't like to order plants from a significant distance from home - my thinking is a lot of the online nurseries are much farther south than I am and a plant shipped from Texas or South Carolina may not like my winters.

I placed an order with Burgess in Bloomington IL back on May 14 and it still has not shipped. (5 grape vines, 2 kiwi vines, asparagus, strawberries)
 
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Side note:

You may be interested in this book - quick read about how two guys transformed a suburban lot into a a food forest. I think they're in Massachusetts

Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City
 
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Mr. Yan, thanks for the response and helpful links.
As for what I want to eat, I don't discriminate. I can eat fresh or preserve/dry the fruit. But I do want the fruit to ripen not simultaneously since it is just me and I can not eat a lot. Also, I add Persimmon to the top of the list.

That tree is definitely not a walnut. My best guess is oak. You are right about the shade of the tree. I have noticed that since the tree is so tall (70-80'), the ground does get sunlight during the day except when the sun is right above the tree, about 12-3 pm. Would you go to the extent to get a professional to significantly prune that big tree?

As for what trees I can source locally, I am not sure. I need to check the nurseries out. But I believe they mainly carry non-fruit trees and plants. I am OK with big box stores, too, if I find something good there. Also, I was thinking that getting trees from the net would save me some money. But like you said, I see a lot of 'out of stock' these days. I will make sure to get something from online nurseries in the midwest as you said.

So, all in all, do you think I can have 6-7 trees in two rows in the yard as shown below by the red spots? Is there any tree and spot that you think should definitely go together?
backyard plan.jpg



Also, I definitely follow your advice of making some natural-looking grape supports. Where would you plant the grapes? By the fence behind red square A or B-D? Same question with sun flowers. Thanks.
 
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@SfromKY sorry but I can only give you ideas and direct your thinking a bit on this. I can't say this is good or bad because I don't know how you want to use the back yard.

Do you want something like a commercial orchard and pack as much production in to it as possible?

Do you want to sit out in the backyard shade next to the grill with friends and enjoy a beer?

Do you want something like a quite green oasis in the backyard?

The starting point for a design is knowing the goal and desired result from what you're designing.

1) Unless that large tree is sick, damaged, or dangerous don't touch it. You answered your own question when you said it doesn't shade the yard.

2) You mentioned Persimmon - read up on those. Some are really big trees and you'll need two as they're male and female.

Have you seen the multi-grafted trees? These are trees where several named cultivars of that fruit have been grafted onto one trunk. This is a way you can have one tree producing a time staggered crop. The other side of that double-edge blade is while you get 5 different types of apples from the tree, if that one tree gets sick or otherwise dies you get no apples from it. All your eggs are in one basket.

For placement and selection of plants you have different vertical layers to play with. Whether you use it or not the layer is there.
Canopy trees - think the BIG tress like oak, walnut, chestnut, pecan
Mid story trees - apple, dogwood, peach, pear, cherry
Shrubs - blueberries, honey berries, service berry, lilac, ninebark
Ground covers - strawberries, most veg we grow, grass, clover
Root / tubers - potato, horseradish, sweet potato
Vines - grape, kiwi, virginia creeper, ivy, hops

For my yard design I had a few goals:
  • Want a fence to keep the dog in and define kid play space
  • Want gates in and out of the fence
  • Want to get every possible calorie from this yard without making it look like a farm
  • Want a shaded patio
I built a modular hog panel fence around parts of the yard and covered gate arbor for the gate in. After we get some concrete ripped out and the ground graded properly I'll put in the patio and pergola. Over the pergola I'll grow either kiwi or grapes.

Attached is a pic of my small back area - I planted two tart cherries there and 9 blue berry bushes. When the grape vines are shipped I'll plant them to cover the fence gate arbor. In the very front of the pic you can see the carpathian walnut I planted.
 

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