Landscaping with fruit and nut-bearing trees

Published 10:57 am Friday, August 11, 2023

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While it is a fact some folks don’t want to deal with fallen fruit and nuts in the yard, some of you wouldn’t mind having trees or hedges that produce year after year. Large trees to consider might include ginkgo, fruiting pear, crabapple, black and white walnut, hickory, and pecan.

Some trees could just as easily provide shade while producing edible nuts and fruits for people and wildlife. Full-sized apple trees on seedling or Antonovka rootstocks will make a 30-foot tree someday which might produce ten or more bushels of apples per year 10 or 20 years from now. And, with careful selection, rather than grabbing a tree at the big box store, you can even find varieties of apple trees that will hold their fruits for several weeks after they are ripe, or even all winter—unless a big windstorm comes along. 

If you don’t have room for a large shade tree, you might replace a redbud or white dogwood with a kousa dogwood or cornelian cherry dogwood, which have edible fruit and pretty blooms. Other options include pawpaw, cherry, persimmon, jujube or peach trees. 

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Pole apple trees have basically straight trunks, with no limbs. This could be the ticket to fruit if you have a small yard or even just a patio and room for a large container. 

You might not have to give up your fall color when choosing landscaping options that bear fruit or nuts. Some apple trees have red or orange fall color, hickory trees have golden yellow and some grapes have red leaves during autumn.

Blueberries are a nice option for landscaping, especially bushes with red or yellow limbs that show in winter and pink and white blooms in spring, bearing fruit in June and July. If you purchase blueberries from the supermarket, you realize they are a high-value fruit—you could produce several pints from each bush in your yard.

Another popular feature these days are arbors and fences that could be covered with grapes, goji berries, kiwi, passion flower vines, hops or magnolia vines.

Other edible cuties might include serviceberry bushes or a raised bed filled with strawberry plants. Strawberries would look good most anywhere you would have a raised flower bed or a terraced wall with flowers just beyond it. Cranberries, kinnikinnick (called bearberry), lingonberry, huckleberry and creeping Oregon grape also come to mind.

When it comes to fruit trees, not every one will make a perfect lawn tree, but there are good ones if you search them out. They may include old varieties your grandparents grew that are hard to find these days. A yellow delicious apple tree isn’t much to look at in the front yard, but a Liberty, Arkansas Black, Northwest Greening or Cornish Aromatic apple tree just might work. I know a well-planned yard with fruits and nuts can be beautiful, for I’ve done it more than once over the years. My hope is it will also work for some of our readers.

The author is a landscaper. Contact Max at or (606) 416-3911