Best Fruit Trees for Garden & Orchard

Best Fruit Trees for Garden & Orchard

The best fruit tree varieties for each grower are wildly diverse and unique based on your specific region and growing conditions. 

In my small backyard garden in southern California, I have been having so much fun growing a variety of oranges, lemons, apples, pomegranates, peaches, and even some exotic fruits like bananas and papaya. Each plant offers such unique benefits and specific needs and there is so much to learn!

Some fruit tree varieties have been maintained, passed on, and selected by growers for many centuries. Varieties have been maintained for their superior flavors, nutrients, hardiness, and beauty as an accent in your garden. There's nothing more beneficial to a grower than incorporating perennials into their annual garden space.

Fruit Trees for Gardens

 Planting Fruit Trees Considerations

  • Varieties suited for your growing zone
  • Cross-Pollination or Self Pollination. Some trees need more than one variety in the same family to cross pollinate and produce fruit.
  • Space. Small gardens should choose dwarf trees suited for growing in containers
  • Sunlight needs & drought tolerance
  • Proper soil drainage is very important to prevent root rot
  • Mulching. Fruit trees thrive growing under mulched soil 
  • Harvest and blooming season and duration


Mulching the soil under fruit trees makes so much sense! Adding a wood chip mulch on top of your soil after planting your fruit trees helps execrate the natural function of mulch in nature. Trees naturally mulch the soil with leaves and broken branches that provide essential organic matter for the growth of the plant. No matter what season, getting a load of free wood chips delivered to spread will greatly benefit your fruit trees or orchard. Once established, most fruit trees require less water. When a layer of mulch is applied to cover the root system, fruit trees become quite a drought-tolerant tree. Master Back to Eden Gardener and arborist Paul Gautschi has maintained a thriving fruit tree orchard with his wood chip mulching system for many decades and has never watered or irrigated them despite droughts and moderate rainfall. 

Benefits of Planting Fruit Trees

Fruit and nut trees add an attractive addition to your landscape, offering stunning flower blooms when many other annual vegetables are still dormant. They provide food year after year without having to replant. But they also serve a vital role in your garden ecology. Fruit trees blossoms attract pollinators and their root systems help host a plethora of beneficial microbes. Trees leaves also perform carbon drawdown, enriching your soil by pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and back into your soil. Fruit trees also offer gardeners a self-sufficient source of mulch, dropping leaves and providing nutrient-rich tree branch trimmings to chip up and return to your soil. Considering the increasing prices of produce, growing your own can be an extremely wise investment.

  • Adds attractive flowering accent to edible landscapes and gardens
  • Woody perennials go keep growing without replanting for many years
  • Thrive in mulch and create their own soil-enriching source of mulch
  • Attract pollinators which are essential for fruit and vegetable production
  • Beneficial microbes inhabit areas around tree root systems
  • Planting trees is one of the best ways to achieve carbon sequestration 
  • You'll save money. Growing your own fruit is a highly worthwhile investment.
  • Food security. The harvest of most fruit trees can easily be preserved in sauces, jams, dried fruit, and nut butters. Trees can provide nutrient-rich food for you year-round.

    Knowing Your Planting Zone

    Planting zones are used as guidelines to determine the hardiness and survivability of various trees and plant species in each geographic area. The hardiness zones are based on the local climate. The USDA determined the zones using average annual minimum temperatures in each region. A plant’s recommended zone is based on the temperatures it can withstand, which is often congruent with the temperatures it would expect to see in its native conditions.

    When ordering a tree or plant, make sure to know your planting zone first to determine what plant and tree varieties are acclimated to your growing zone. 

    Top Fruit Trees for Edible Orchards & Gardens

    Nature Hills Nursery is America's #1 online plant nursery. They are our top pick for delicious, highly recommended edible fruit tree varieties:

     Improved Dwarf Meyer Lemon TreesImproved Meyer Lemon Fruit Tree

    • Growing Zones 9-11 (Patio 4-11)
    • Grow Indoors and Out
    • Heavy Production Year Round
    • Less Acidic, Sweeter Fruit
    • Delicious Blend of Lemon and Mandarin Orange
    • Fragrant Blooms
    • Virus Free Cloned Plant 

     Mexican Key Lime Tree

    Mexican Key Lime
    • Growing Zones 9-11 (Patio 4-11)
    • Fragrant, Delicious Mexican Key Limes
    • Versatile, Aromatic Small Tree
    • Culinary Favorite
    • Fragrant White Blossoms
    • High Yield

     Honey Crisp Apple Tree

    Honey Crisp Apple Tree

    • Growing Zones 3-8
    • Late Mid-Season
    • Extremely Cold Hardy, But Adaptable to Warm Climates
    • Self-Fruitful in Many Climates
    • Prolonged Harvest
    • Bears Fruit at Young Age
    • Round Yellow Fruit with a Red Blush
    • High Chill 700 - 1000 Hours

    Bartlett Pear Tree

    Bartlett Pear Tree

    • Growing Zones 4-9
    • Golden Green Skin Ripens Golden Yellow
    • Delicious Sweet & Juicy
    • Crisp White Flesh Perfect for Fresh Eating, Cooking & Baking
    • Ornamental Year-Round
    • Gorgeous Clusters of White Blooms
    • Handsome Green Foliage
    • Vigorous Growing Small Tree
    • Long-Lived
    • Urban Condition Tolerant
    • Self-Fruitful but Pollinates with Bosc, D’Anjou or Comice!
    • Keeps Well In Storage
    • Heirloom Antique Variety
    • 800 Chill Hours

    Brown Turkey Fig Tree

    Brown Turkey Fig Tree

    • Growing Zones 5-9
    • Two Harvests a Year
    • Breba Crop in Spring and Main Crop in Early Fall
    • Mild Tasting, Open Eye Variety
    • Healthy and Sweet Fruit
    • Prolific, Vigorous Tree
    • Long-Lived
    • Amazing, Fragrant Foliage
    • Can Be Grown in Containers in Zones 5 and 6 With Dormant Winter Protection
    • Virtually Pest Free

    Distinguishing Between Navitars & Natives

    Another important thing to consider is what varieties of trees and plants are native to your growing zone. Even if many of these varieties are not categorized as edible fruit trees, they can be greatly beneficial to add to your garden or orchard to create a more resilient and beautiful growing habitat. Native trees have adapted to perform the best in your region's unique soil conditions, climate, drought, or flood tolerance and will have a better natural ability to resist your specific local pests and diseases. You will end up having to put in less work, money, and effort to improve and change your growing conditions to suit the plant's needs.


        • highly adapted to the climate and soil they are naturally growing in
        • better adapt to particular weather
        • requires less babying (within their particular climate) than non-natives
        • promotes biodiversity throughout your garden
        • naturally resistant to local pets 
        • attract beneficial pollinators


        • Combination of the words ‘native’ and ‘cultivar’ (result of careful selection and cross-breeding by humans)
        • Wider variety of flower colors, shapes & forms
        • incorporate different sizes of plant
        • heightened insect or disease resistance
        • select preferred hardiness 
          • main concern for - and argument against - is their lack of genetic diversity

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