Fruit Tree Selection Guide

Fruit Tree Selection Guide for San Jose Area

Fresh fruit from your own backyard is everyone’s dream. But many find the idea of planting and successfully growing fruit as a insurmountable task. Not so! Pick the right tree and plant at the right time – and you will be enjoying ripe and healthy snacks straight from the vine in no time!

First, what type of soil do you have? Certain soils are best for certain trees:

Sandy: peaches, pomegranates, apricots, plums, almonds, grapes, ad nectarines.
Loam: All trees, especially walnut and cherries.
Clay: Apples, plums, pears, apricots, almonds and peaches (grafted on plum rootstock).

Next, determine climate:

Here in the San Jose area, November through February the temperature will drop. To determine your climate (climates vary across Bay Area, especially Inland), count or estimate the number of chill hours your area receives. Chill hours are the total number of hours the temperature will dip below 45 degrees. Fruit trees require different levels of chill hours to produce the best fruit.

High – Trees that require 800 to 1,200 chill hours are apples, some apricot varieties, cherries, and pears

Moderate – 500 to 800 chill hours; some apricots, nectarines, plums, peaches, and some varieties of apples

Low – 500 hours or less; almonds, persimmons, pomegranates, figs, and some varieties of apples

Third, consider pollination requirements:

Some trees are self-pollinating, others require cross-pollinaters to be planted nearby. If the fruit tree requires a cross pollinator, and you don’t have one, you likely won’t get fruit.

Self-pollinating: Figs, peaches, nectarines, pomegranates and most varieties of apricots.

Needs cross-pollination- Almonds, apples, pears, plums, pluots and cherries. However, there are some varieties of these that do not need pollinators. If you are purchasing your own trees from a nursery, ask a nursery professional for assistance.

If a cross pollinator is needed for the fruit tree, you need space to plant both of them. Since space may be an issue, a suggested alternative is to plant fruit trees that have multiple grafts on them. You can purchase an apple tree that has up to 4 different varieties grafted onto the same tree. Again, ask your nursery professional to point you in the right direction for these trees, or contact your Arbortek Trees team of arborists for advice.

Will you have enough room when the trees are mature?

Walnuts – trees grow up to 30’ tall
Peaches – up to 15’ tall
Nectarines – up to 15’ tall
Figs – up to 30’ tall
Pomegranate – up to 20’ tall
Apples – up to 20’; dwarfing at 14’
Pears – up to 20’; dwarfing at 15’
Cherries – up to 20’, dwarfing at 12’
Apricots and plums – up to 18’; dwarfing at 14’

If you live in an urban area, you must consider city or county restrictions. Learn more about San Jose tree planting restrictions, in our Dummies Guide to Tree Planting in the Bay Area.

Lastly, make sure you have enough light.

Fruit trees need six hours a day during the growing season (when leaves are on).

Now you’ve determined the tree, it’s time to plant. Call San Jose tree experts, Arbortek Trees if you’d like to leave the planting to the professionals. Be sure to plant in winter, before the trees break dormancy.

Why Removing Deadwood Is Worth Every Penny

As we discussed in our previous blog on how to winterize trees, we explained that a tree is still alive and needs to remain healthy during dormant season. Removing deadwood is a vital part of the tree winterizing process.


Let’s discuss why we remove deadwood from trees…

Deadwood removal is preventative tree care. It is the process of removing dead branches and limbs from trees, in order to prevent tree decay, insect & pest infestation, tree disease, and preserve the tree’s natural resources. It also helps the aesthetic appeal of the tree. Simply stated, removing deadwood makes your tree investment count!

Removing dead branches and damaged tree limbs encourages wound closure and prevents diseases from entering the tree. Many homeowners wait until a severe storm snaps dead branches off the tree. This exposes the heartwood of the tree. The rough ends of the broken limbs and branches make a perfect home for unwanted insects. Water is also able to stand here, which creates moisture that favors fungus and decay. Trunk rot anyone? No thanks!

But dead wood is not just broken or damaged limbs…

Deadwood RemovalDeadwood is also a natural process for many fast growing trees such as locusts, silver maples, and birch trees. Interior branches receive less sunlight and are more prone to cold damage during winter. The tree sends more sap to those branches which support the tree. Eventually the sap supply to the less productive branch is cut off, and the branch dies. If the branch is more than 1” in diameter and breaks off, it leaves a large wound.


Where to look for deadwood removal in your yard…

Focus on trees that are in your immediate front or backyard, and trees that are in high-use areas such as near a deck, patio, fire pit, or sidewalk.

All wood will eventually decay, but this process takes too long in urban settings to be safe. Dead branches become brittle which makes them prone to breaking off during storms and even light winds. A branch may cause property damage or injury when it snaps. To reduce the risk of property damage and liability, focus on trees that could fall on power lines, buildings, vehicles, and passerby’s.

Are there benefits to keeping deadwood on my property?

When deadwood is removed from the canopy, you may consider keeping it on the property. The nutrient bed benefits the landscape by encouraging a forest soil microbiology. The soil keeps moisture longer, yet drains better. It increases the ability of your trees and other surrounding plants to absorb nutrients from the soil. You will see healthier foliage and less tree disease in the future when employing this method.

If creating a natural woodlands in your yard is a priority, seek the advice of a certified arborist. While keeping the deadwood is beneficial, placement is key for building a sustainable eco-system.tree-167489_1280

If you are not confident in your skills for tree pruning, deadwood or tree removal, please call San Jose’s tree experts – Arbortek Trees. We are local, licensed, ISA certified, and insured – and we care a lot about the health of our Santa Clara County communities’ trees!

Brrrr…It’s About Time to Winterize Your Trees!

Winter is a difficult time for a tree. Trees may look inactive going into winter but the fact is they continue to regulate their metabolism and only slow down some physiological activities. Trees still continue to slowly grow roots, respire, and take in water and nutrients during the dormant stage.

A dormant tree still needs to be winterized to remain healthy!

How to Winterize a Tree

1. Pruning
Always prune the dead, diseased, or overlapping branches in late fall. This will not only strengthen the tree, encourage strong growth in the spring, but also minimize winter storm damage.  Prune branches that can touch the ground when loaded with rain and snow (foliage in contact with soil invites undesirable pests and can break with heavy snow loads). Also, make sure you branches have a 10 ft. clearance from chimneys.

2. Mulch and Aerate
Mulching for dormant trees? Yes! Young trees are especially vulnerable to fluctuations of temperature and moisture and need mulching protection. Mulch is good insurance that both conditions will be evenly managed during winter.

Always aerate soils and compacted mulch if the roots are water logged or poorly drained. Saturated and dense soil can suffocate roots. Roots function as an anchor, providing major resistance to wind. With strong winds and saturated soil, trees may be vulnerable to falling or cracking due to a loss of anchorage. Any “heaving” of soil around the base of a tree should be taken seriously.

3. Reduce Sail Effect
Reducing “sail effect” is the practice of removing minimal foliage mass so there is less branch resistance to wind. We sometimes call this crown thinning. This allows wind to move more freely through the crown of a tree, thus reducing the wind loading upon the limbs.  Crown thinning produces a balanced crown structure, without altering the overall size or shape of the tree.

4. Recognize and Reduce Points of Hazard
Recognizing and reducing points of tree hazards not only increases the safety of your property, but also improves the tree’s health and may increase its longevity!

Dead trees are considered the most hazardous. Once a tree dies, decay organisms begin weakening tree structure. Structural weakening increases over time. A dead tree is a hazard when it threatens personal injury or would cause damage to personal property or structures if it failed.

Leaning trees are a threat when the lean is the result of structural damage. Trees that lean naturally usually are reinforced by compensatory growth. The greater the lean of damaged trees, the greater the probability of failure during wind gusts or snow loads.

A tree with a potential to fall into a utility line, or close to one, is a very serious situation. Not only can they injure people or property near the line, but also hitting the line may cause power outages, surges, fires, and other damage. If an electrical wire comes in contact with a tree, assume it is energized and dangerous. Do not touch the tree or anything in contact with it and call your power company immediately.

An arborist familiar with hazard tree evaluation may suggest the following:

  • Remove the target. Move cars, landscape furniture, or other possible targets to prevent them from being hit by a fallen tree.
  • Cable and brace the tree. Provide physical support for weak branches to increase their strength and stability.
  • Remove the tree. Some hazardous trees are best removed.

Phew! There are a lot of options and things to consider when winterizing your trees. We hope this checklist will save you some time, money, and avoid loss or injury. If you need assistance, please contact us. We are on stand by and ready to help!