The best fruit trees for small gardens

Blossom in spring and an autumn harvest – these fruit trees are perfect for small gardens - and autumn (Oct/Nov) is the time to plant them.

The good news is you don’t need a big garden for these fruit trees – in fact, you can even create a mini orchard in just a few pots.

Self-fertile varieties are perfect if you don’t have space to grow two or more varieties of apples and pears.

Here are some of our favourite fruit trees:

  • Cox apple trees and the sweeter and more aromatic Red Windsor are good choices.
  • Concorde and Conference pear trees also produce a crop without a partner, but give bigger yields if there’s a pear or quince nearby that flowers at the same time.
  • Cherry trees can be grown in a large tub. Five varieties with different tones fom pinky red to almost back are ‘Stella’, ‘Kordia’, ‘Regina’, ‘Sunburst’ and ‘Morello’. Where space is at a premium you can grow ‘family’ trees where two or more varieties are grafted onto one rootstock.

For just £41.97, you can order a collection of Dual apple, pear and plums and you’ll get 6 different fruits on one tree – how magical is that?

READ MORE: How to grow your own fruit and vegetables

Go for slim-fit trees

For smaller gardens, apples, pears, gages, plums, damsons and cherries are all available as self-fertile Minarettes. These bear fruit on short spurs along the length of a vertical stem, and many can be grown in patio pots. Alternatively, plant them in the ground 60-90cm apart to make a decorative screen or fruiting hedge. When mature they’ll reach a height of 1.8m-2.4m.

Order some skinny apple trees

Apple trees | Alamy

Columnar apple trees are another option and grow 2.5-3m tall by 60cm wide. These upright trees bear full-size apples, although the overall yield is less than a dwarf tree. You’ll need to plant more than one variety for pollination and choose ones that belong to the same pollination group, which flower at the same time.

Varieties include the new Lubera Malini, which is scab-resistant and produces fruit that’s juicy, sour and refreshing. The taller Ballerina varieties are ideal for training over an archway to create a fruiting tunnel.

Create an orchard in pots

Even a patio gardener can experience the joy of owing an orchard – here are some ideas to get you started.

Fruit trees for small garden

Peach ‘bonanza’ tree | Alamy

  • Peach – Dwarf Garden Lady and Bonanza reach just 1.2-1.8m tall. Both produce pink flowers in spring followed by plenty of full- size, sweet, yellow-fleshed, stone-free fruit in midsummer.
  • Plum – Minarette Majorie’s Seedling variety is ideal for colder areas and produces large, sweet plums
  • Apple – Lowfruit Maloni Gullivers apple which grows to just 1m tall or Pixie apple trees, which are grafted on to dwarf M27 rootstock, produce lots of small, juicy apples.
  • Pear – Concorde is a flavoursome, good cropper but make sure it’s grown on Quince C rootstock as these are the smallest, growing to 2.5-3m.

Look out for ‘stepover’ fruit trees

Stepover fruit trees | Alamy

‘Stepover’ fruit trees are the smallest options because they’re trained horizontally and grow to just 45-60cm in height, so you can literally step over them. Grown on a miniature rootstock and sold ready-trained, you can have apples, pears, plums and greengages

To keep their restrictive form and a good supply of fruit, you’ll need to prune in winter and summer. To maintain a T-shape, simply prune new growth from the main stems to three leaves above the lowest cluster of leaves.