You want to plant a fruit tree in the yard, but where to put it? Here are the most important factors to consider, presented in the form of questions. The place in the yard that answers YES to the most questions below wins.

1. Is it close to the house, especially the front door or whichever door is used most often? (Why? Out of sight, out of mind. A fruit tree that you see many times a day will be eaten, enjoyed, and cared for more.)

2. Does it get optimal sun for the species? (Keep in mind, for example, the desire for an avocado to get sun early on winter mornings, or that it’s fine for a deciduous tree to be in shade all winter. But in general, full sun, all day, all year, is best.)

3. Does it offer convenient access to extra rain in the form of driveway runoff, roof runoff, or gravity-fed rainwater from a storage tank? And is it easy to reuse household water at the site? (Could be laundry water or shower water, for example.)

4. Can the site be easily incorporated into the automatic irrigation system, if one exists?

5. Is the area big enough for the tree’s mature size, unless you want to commit to pruning?

6. Is the soil quality and depth appropriate for the species? (Remember that if the soil is shallow or doesn’t drain well, you can plant on a mound.)

7. Will the tree enhance desires for privacy and shade but not obstruct desired views?

8. Finally, is the spot near other trees of the same species that can benefit from cross-pollination? (Think of A/B-type avocados or different varieties of apple.)

For example, I recently planted a Keitt mango. I had two potential spots in the yard picked out. Both spots get a lot of sun, but the spot that won gets sun earlier on winter mornings, when a tropical mango needs it. Both spots have good soil, are close to rain tanks, and can easily be incorporated into the automatic irrigation system, but the winning spot has more space such that the tree can grow to a 30-foot canopy if it wants to — and I want it to, if it wants to!

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