Planting fruit trees under pine trees


In the Brooder
7 Years
Jun 2, 2012
I have 9 large pines lining my property. I would like to plant my fruit trees between some of the pines. ther is about 20ft of space between the pine trees and i was thinking of espelliang (sp?) 4 semi dwarf trees between them. is this an okay idea or will they not do well being under the pines?
I'm guessing that it is more that there is only 20 feet of space between large pine trees. Do you mean between one trunk and the next? Or is there 20 feet of clear space between tips of the branches?

Why are you looking to plant there? Not the best place for successful fruit trees. If I was going to try I 'd put them in front of them and little between (on the south side of the pines), but not in line with the trunks. You never know. I think you'd have more success with plants that are meant to be undergrowth trees, like elderberries or some such. But, you never know....

"Espalier". "To esplalier". Ummm.... "espaliaying"? Yeah, I just avoid the verb in that form. Doesn't work in English, does it?

"I was thinking I would espalier 4 semi-dwarf trees...." There you go.
i mean between the trunks. I am not worried about the sun as much as i am the soil from all the pine needles. The sunniest part of my yard is where the trees are planted now however i want to change the set up and put more veggie bed space there. I am in the NW part of wa and I am not sure of the garden zone. I want successful fruit trees but i also want to get the most out of my 1/4 acre
NW, like up near Bellingham? Or NW meaning Oly Peninsula?

Zones aren't really going to matter, though if you are talking fruit trees in WA. You are good there.

I'm still thinking of the pine trees and your .25 acre. *Nine* on a .25 acre? What kind are they? Are they pine trees (like native shore pine--good choice for Western WA) or "pine" trees (something people call all manner of conifers, including Douglas firs which easily get to 100 feet in short order.)

I'm still less concerned about soil acidity than I am with crowding, which is why I ask these questions. WA soils are naturally acidic, but not intensely problematic, even with needles on the ground.

If these are shore pines, you should be pretty good to try what you are thinking of. Anything larger (and shore pines can get pretty big), I would try to find a better spot. Because of crowding, both above ground and below, not acidity.
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Another question about your trees. Are they *already* large? Or have they been recently planted? Planting your fruit trees before the pine roots have reached all over will help your fruit trees get established better and compete better.

And they will need to compete regardless. Which is why if you are wanting to *maximize* fruit production on such a small acreage, I would plant the trees somewhere else and plant elderberries, currants, huckleberries, black caps, etc. These don't mind a bit of extra acidity, even more so than fruit trees, and they are used to fitting their roots into niches in soil crowded with tree roots.
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My pine trees are indeed the "all manner of conifers" including a douglas. My hubby and i decided to leave our dwarf orchard as is and plant nut trees beneath the conifers. I know those will thrive in the location i want to fill. I am just sad to lose so much good sunny gardening space for my fruit trees. I will look into huckleberry, I love them and think they would make a great addition. Oh and yes my fruit trees were just planted this past spring. I think we will trellis the future cherry trees.
If I was trying to make the most out of 1/4 acre, and the pines were mine, the pines would go. I am not tryind to sound smart. I have had a similar problem. As my garden grows, I have to make room. I have given up some trees that I did intend to keep. The longer I am here, the more I want to do.
The pines would limit the amount of sun your fruit trees get and they need a lot. We live in the woods with a few clearings and our fruit trees haven't done real well. Also, we have tremendous regret about not cutting more trees before building. I don't know the size of your pines, but having lived among a lot of trees, I can tell you that they only get bigger, of course, and it is so much easier to remove them before they are huge. We also have massive pines dying from beetles and falling, causing damage.
Even if you get sun between the conifers, don't expect the fruit trees to do well. Between the rain and the conifers, soil might be too acidic for the fruit trees to do well. Another big problem with conifers is that the sap is not only designed to kill bugs that want to eat the tree but it tends to stunt the development of other vegetation underneath. In particular, it keeps seeds from germinating. This is why the ground is more or less clear underneath a pine tree.

And you have Douglas fir?... Oh dear... Does it have lots of space around it now? no? OH DEAR!!
try adding a little lime to your soil. It does not sound like you can remove the trees or want too. I would not remove any that do not need to be.
I live in a region called Apple Hill.
Red Dirt and tons of Pine and Fir and Cedar.
Actually this is probably one of the best Apple producing regions in the world. Make sure your drainage is good and you should be ok. If you do or do not espalier you can thin the crown to get the most light into the canopy

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