Traditional Standard Orchard

The below information gives some important practical advice to achieve successful planting and establishment of your traditional orchard. Covering variety, selection, rootstocks, planting instructions and aftercare.


Rootstock selection is important for vigour, good anchorage and longevity and only vigorous rootstocks should be used.

There are a few alternative rootstocks which can be used if the conditions are suitable. Further advice and information can be found on our Rootstock Chart.

Tree Age

All trees will establish quicker and have better anchorage in the longer term if planted when young.

Young trees are ideal for planting into orchards. We would recommend the two year old straight lead as the best tree for planting as it is economical and substantial enough to compete with its surroundings and be staked and guarded properly. Standards (not always obtainable and more expensive) provide the most instant tree. One year Maidens although smaller are generally more available, and can be pruned to the form required.

The transplanting of older trees is not recommended.

Tree Availability

On our nursery we offer two year straight leads and maidens with the occasional standards of plums, gages, and damsons. There is a wide range of varieties to choose from. To assist with planning your traditional orchard, we offer to select a suitable range for our customers depending on quantities, location, preferences for eating, cooking, and processing (cider and perry). Contact us for out availability list.

Ground Preparation & Planting

In orchard renovation, trees are often planted into the same position as the original tree. This is recommended to maintain the symmetry of the plantation. In these circumstances additional fertiliser such as bone meal and extra mulching will give the tree a good start.

The trees should have no competition from grass for the first 3 years. Spray off a metre square at least a month before planting and only in circumstances where an old tree has been removed should the soil be dug over incorporating some well rotted compost or manure.

On virgin grassland or cultivated soil it is advisable not to dig holes in advance as unexpected rain will ‘puddle’ the hole and the backfill. Do not put fresh manure in the hole.

Plant the tree with the union of rootstock and variety 3 – 4” above ground level. Always mulch the tree with any organic matter, old carpet etc.

Protection From Farm Animals

Trees are incompatible with animals such as sheep and cattle for at least 10 years unless good protection is provided.

Sheep or cattle can devastate young trees in no time. It is better to erect a 3 post guard with 5’6” posts, wire stock fencing and barbed wire to be certain of full protection. A post either side with rabbit or stock fencing for sheep reduces the cost but this cannot be guaranteed to eliminate damage. For both systems the tree itself still needs rabbit protection with spiral or mesh guards.

Further help and advice including grant information can be obtained from the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group.