How Far Apart to Plant Apple Trees? (Guide to Perfect Distance)

Planting apple trees in your garden brings the promise of fresh juicy fruits year after year. But before you start digging holes for your trees, you must consider the space between the trees. 

Apple trees need to be far enough apart to grow to their full potential but close enough to allow for pollination. This may sound tricky, but here are some guidelines that will ensure you plant your trees in the best possible way.

Apple trees need 10 – 35 feet of space between them to allow for maximum sun and air circulation to prevent fungal disease. However, they must not be too far apart to prevent pollination from occurring. Plant standard trees 30 to 35 feet apart, semi-dwarf trees 15 feet apart, and dwarf apple trees 10 feet apart. 

You may be considering this issue because:

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  • You have limited space in your garden, and you need to know how many trees you can plant;
  • You are concerned about planting them too close together, causing overcrowding and poor fruit production;
  • You want to spread your trees out but are concerned that they may be too far apart for pollination.

Optimum distance between apple trees

Planting trees with the optimum distance between them is important for the following reasons:

  • It ensures that pollination can take place;
  • It ensures that they grow to their full potential;
  • The trees will get enough sunlight that reaches all the branches;
  • Trees will get adequate air circulation, preventing dampness that encourages pests and diseases to thrive;
  • Trees that grow too close together will shade one another and result in low fruit;
  • It is easier to pick fruit from trees that are correctly spaced out.

The recommended distance between apple trees depends on the rootstock of the tree you are planting. Let’s look at the most common types.

Type of RootstockSpace between treesSize of tree
Dwarf10 feet apart 8 to 10 feet tall and wide
Semi-dwarf15 feet apart12 to 15 feet tall and wide
Standard30 to 35 feet apart15 to 30 feet or more

These are average distances. Factors such as soil, weather conditions, pollinating conditions, fertilization, and inadequate pruning may affect the size of your trees. However, it is wiser to plan for optimum conditions and assume that your trees will reach their full potential. 

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Remember that the space apart means on all sides of the tree. This will be important if you plan to plant an orchard in rows. You will need space between your rows and between the trees in the row. 

How close do 2 apple trees need to be?

The main reason that apple trees need to be close together is for pollination. To ensure fruit production, apple trees need a partner tree nearby. While some varieties of apple trees are self-fruitful, they always do better when they have a pollinating partner. 

For apple trees to be properly pollinated, they should be planted within 50 to 100 feet of one another. Remember that for pollination to occur, you need to plant two different varieties that have the same or overlapping flowering times. Trees are pollinated by wind, bees, and other pollinating insects. 

If you have a very small garden and can only plant one apple tree, you may be lucky enough to have a pollinating partner in a neighbor’s garden, or perhaps you could persuade them to plant one! 

What happens if you plant apple trees too close together?

Apple trees that are planted too close together will not grow to their full potential. 

  • As the branches grow, they will encroach on one another, blocking out the sun that is needed for healthy fruits. Shade will be thrown onto nearby trees, creating dampness. Pests and diseases flourish in these damp conditions and can spread rapidly through your orchard.
  • Trees that are close together do not have adequate air circulation. This creates a similar problem of darkness and dampness, encouraging conditions for fungus and mold to grow.
  • The roots of the trees will become entangled. This means less water, nutrients, and essential elements for each tree. They will steal nutrients from one another, causing your orchard to become unhealthy.

If, after time, you find that your orchard is becoming overcrowded, you can prune larger branches to make space. You may also consider removing some of the less fruitful trees to give the others the space they need. 

Do not plant trees close to tall structures that can block out the sun. This will create the same problems as planting trees too close to one another. 

Can you plant apple trees too far apart?

Planting your apple trees too far apart also has some drawbacks. The main problem will be the failure of the trees to get pollinated.

Most fruit trees release pollen at a distance that is double the height of the mature tree. This will give you an indication of how far the pollen will spread:

Type of RootstockAverage height Distance of pollen spread
Dwarf10 feet 20 feet
Semi-dwarf15 feet 30 feet
Standard35 feet70 feet or more

Bees also travel between pollinating partners, spreading pollen. The optimum distance they travel is 50 to 100 feet. Trees that are too far apart will miss out on insect and wind pollination.

Remember to be mindful of the type of rootstock you are planting. While standard trees can be planted up to 30 feet apart, this will be too far apart for semi-dwarf or dwarf trees. 

Dwarf tree spacing

Dwarf trees are rootstocks that are cultivated to grow to a smaller size than the average size of the species. Dwarf apple trees will still produce delicious, full-sized fruits. 

If you have a smaller garden, planting dwarf trees is a great choice. Compared to a standard apple tree that may reach 20 feet or more in size, dwarf trees will only reach 8 to 15 feet. This allows you to plant more trees in your limited space. 

When planting dwarf trees, ensure that you have at least 10 feet of space around each tree. Prune them when necessary to prevent branches from encroaching on neighboring trees. 

Final thoughts 

Setting up a small home apple tree orchard will require some planning. Apple trees come in different rootstocks, determining the size of the mature tree. 

It is important to correctly space your trees to allow them to grow in height and width to their full potential. The smaller the rootstock, the closer the trees can be planted. 

Trees that are too close together will overcrowd one another, blocking out sunlight and air circulation. This causes shade and dampness and encourages pests and diseases to flourish. Trees that are planted too far apart may not get pollinated and fail to produce crops. 

By following these simple guidelines, you can determine how far apart your trees should be spaced, and that will indicate how many trees you can fit into your space to produce the best possible crops. 


Sam is an outdoor enthusiast, who loves spending time in the garden and learning about animals. His motivating forces are his wife and 5 beautiful children. When he doesn't get it right, he will go and try again!

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