Welcome! Log In Create A New Account

Advanced

tree alignment

Posted by Michael Phillips 
tree alignment
March 05, 2016 10:32PM
Laying out an orchard involves the right spacing to keep trees "calm" followed by other basics. It's preferable to run rows along contour on more determined slopes. Orientation to the sun can be debated until the cows come home. East-west rows follow the arc of the sun and often accommodate the prevailing breeze coming down the aisle way. North-south rows work fine but require that attention be paid to tree height so lower branches in the next row over aren't shaded throughout the day. Swales on keyline are determined by topographical factors and ground water flow. Gravity-fed irrigation can change things yet again.

The decision of how trees align from row to row interests me right now. Trees are "alternated" in a hexagonal layout, whereas one tree is equidistant from every other tree. This results in more trees within a given space. I do this in my double rows (yet another choice!) running across my south-facing slope in order to fit the paired rows slightly closer together. On the other hand, trees are more often aligned up and down a grid layout where rows run parallel, with full-width access provided between rows. The allotted tree radius into the aisle way can be obtained regardless of how trees in one row align with trees in the next because of sufficient space between. This can be a perpendicular arrangement or run across terrain at an angle. This is done by growers who enjoy being able to sight down straight lines in any direction. Guys who are also carpenters especially like this sort of thing. Then again, it isn't like one needs to be germanic to grow fruit.

Just sharing. I thought others might have layout quandaries to introduce and discuss.

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire
Re: tree alignment
October 04, 2019 10:28PM
I'm in the process of thinking through this as well for a 3 acre orchard. I'm most interested in contour planting and keyline design and what the pros and cons of each would be for my location (the plot is sloped and undulates in spots). What appeals to me with each of these approaches is the acknowledgment of an orchard occupying a pre-existing landscape with unique features of its own. Would anyone like to share what factors motivated their orchard design and spacing?

Backyard Agrarian
Zone 5b Leelanau County, MI
Re: tree alignment
October 16, 2019 04:11PM
There is a scene in Crocodile Dundee II where Walt stumbles upon a couple of Aboriginal men roasting bats on sticks over a camp fire. When asked how the meal was progressing, one looks up and replies dryly, “Needs more garlic.” In your case, my initial reaction to the query is, “needs more data.”

Charts, graphs and visual aids might really get this thread going and give us an idea of what your particular plot offers in terms of challenges. You mention it is sloped. General pitch? At a certain slope, all of the fine points in double rowing, branch shading and wind flow might just take a back seat to site safety.

You could do worse than get out there now with a couple hundred stakes and pilot a possible layout. Then travel the orchard to be with all the infernal combustion powered implements you intend to use in the planting, maintenance and harvesting of that space. Can you go up, down and across rows without undue puckering in the posterior or upsetting the proverbial apple cart? Will the layout allow for ease of parking tractors, atv's or small machines across the hillside such that if the parking brake lets loose you will not be filming with your memory a swath of trees being run over while steel on wheels gains insane momentum before it wraps itself around something substantial enough to counter gravity? Machines are expensive to replace or repair, and the time lost to replanting may be insurmountable. Humans also make really poor bollards, so the mitigation in probability of human injury might be more important than achieving a theoretical ideal for layout.

Lakes Region NH @ 1200' or so
5a?

393 planted towards a 440 goal mixed apple, pear, plum and apricot...



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/16/2019 04:14PM by Chris Vlitas.
Re: tree alignment
May 06, 2020 06:25PM
Jacob -- have you started planting yet ? My site ranges from hilly to very hilly and the rows are all on contour-- each tree in the same row sits at at the same elevation. Find the steepest slope and set your minimum inter-row spacing at that point. As the slope decreases along the row, that inter-row spacing increases and the space between the rows opens up. These open areas can be used for something other than extracting maximum yield from your site: wildflowers or other un-mown terrain for wildlife habitat, a beehive or two, a bench, or outdoor sculpture.

Josh Klatt
Ohio River Valley
Zone 6b
Re: tree alignment
June 01, 2020 05:24PM
Thanks for the input, Josh. I haven't planted the block in question but am intrigued by your layout. Can you discuss how you decided your inter-row spacing?
Re: tree alignment
June 04, 2020 11:49PM
For my Inter-row spacing (I'm talking about space between rows -- am I using the right prefix ??): FIrst I found the steepest sloped section of the block. Here I set the spacing between rows (up and down the slope) at what I felt would be a comfortable minimum-- enough to get my tractor through easily without bumping branches and then added some space onto that. I tried to imagine what the trees would look like when mature with spreading lateral limbs. Since every other part of the block would be the same slope or less steep, this space between rows would remain the same or widen as the rows extended out along the contour. This gets me the location of 1 tree in each row of this particular block. Then, picking a row and using that single tree location as a reference point for a laser level, I could walk out along each row with a long tape and stake out the location of each subsequent tree within the row. Within each row, I also left plenty of breathing room between trees and I'm planting different stuff inside that generous space (berries, shrubs, small nut trees, etc.).

Josh Klatt
Ohio River Valley
Zone 6b
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login