Traditional Standard Orchards

This information gives some important practical advice to achieve successful planting and establishment 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 and further advice can be given.

Our Rootstock Chart

Tree Age

All trees will establish quicker and have better anchorage in the longer term if planted when young. One year (maidens) or two year (straight lead) or three year (finished standards) are ideal. The transplanting of older trees is not recommended mainly due to possible tree death, delayed establishment time, and poor future anchorage. 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 and maidens (one year) although smaller are generally more available, are satisfactory, but do require some TLC in the first few years.

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, many local to our area. To assist with planning we offer to select a suitable range for our customers depending on quantities, location, preferences for eating, cooking, and processing (cider and perry). Please refer to our price list under the bare root sections for availability.

Ground Preparation & Planting

In orchard renovation trees are often planted into the same position as the original tree and although not ideal this has to be done 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.

Some useful suggestions:

  • The tree 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.
  • In the rare circumstance where a pot grown tree is used make sure all the compost is knocked off the root (when dormant) and the roots are well spread out to prevent poor anchorage in the future.
  • Prevent further competition from weeds and grass by regular spraying with a herbicide and maintaining a clean mulch.

Where no animals are involved circumstances would not always demand a tree stake and only for about 4 years would it be necessary in exposed places. However, it does provide a purchase for proper rabbit guarding with wire netting. It is very important to protect from rabbit and hare damage the day the tree is planted. Wire mesh guards are preferable to spirals just for the reason that the stem of the tree can be seen at all times.

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 (as illustrated) 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 (FWAG) whose headquarters are Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwick, CV8 2RX. Tel 024 7669 6699 or to find your local office.


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