Over the past few years, I’ve used many tools to break ground and grow our fruit trees. While some worked great, others didn’t. I chose to only include the ones worked on this list.

The following list includes the products that are ideal for growing fruit trees. Of course, you don’t need all of them, so simply pick and choose which ones work best for you!

our backyard food forest
Our backyard food forest with lemon, lime, orange, avocado, fig, and other fruit trees.

I will say that bamboo stakes were a lifesaver not only for our young fruit trees but for our other fruiting plants such as tomatoes and cucumbers (see the image below).

tomato and cucumber bamboo trellises

We built them into simple trellises and tied them with grafting tape. They didn’t waver at all—even with stronger winds.

If you’re looking at staking your younger fruit trees, I’d suggest getting the 6-8′ bamboo poles and burying them 2′ deep.

Now, here’s a list of the tools I recommend to give your fruit trees the best chance of survival.

My Fruit Tree Starter Kit

my pH meter for fruit trees
My handy soil pH meter.

If you don’t need to stakes or trellises for your fruiting plants, skip the bamboo stakes. The same goes for grafting tape if you’re not doing any grafting.

Everything else I highly recommend and will likely save you both time and money.

My Potted Fruit Tree Starter Kit

Naturally, there are some items on this list that are far more helpful than others.

My Top 3 Recommended Tools For Fruit Trees

1. Soil pH Meter

I recently purchased a pH meter for my garden, and wow—it’s helped me analyze the soil so easily. Within a couple of seconds, I can test the pH of the soil, instead of just guessing.

It can also measure light levels, but it’s not as helpful as the other two measurements since light can be fairly obvious. However, I can see how this would be helpful to test for sufficient light indoors.

This tool also doesn’t require batteries or electricity, so you simply push it into the soil and make sure the switch is set to whichever measurement you’d like to take (moisture, pH, or light).

The moisture reading is helpful because overwatering fruit trees is easy to do and leads to issues such as root rot. Still, I prefer the golden rule of pushing my finger into the soil and only watering when the first 2-4 inches of soil gets dry.

Even if the fruit tree gets proper water and nutrients, it can still have issues absorbing nutrients if the pH isn’t balanced.

Fourteen of the seventeen essential plant nutrients are obtained from the soil. Before a nutrient can be used by plants it must be dissolved in the soil solution. Most minerals and nutrients are more soluble or available in acid soils than in neutral or slightly alkaline soils.

Donald Bickelhaupt, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Fruit trees (and most other plants) prefer a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0. However, there are some exceptions (such as blueberries preferring a more acidic soil of 4.5 to 5.5)

ph scale couch to homestead

While you can buy kits or do homemade tests to determine your soil’s pH, having a soil meter makes it incredibly easy.

2. Compost

compost for a lime tree

While they’re not technically tools, compost and mulch are the two best materials for your fruit trees. Here’s why.

Even though chemical fertilizers work in the short-term, they often have long-term effects such as drying out the soil and making the tree dependent on fertilizer (instead of growing roots to search for more nutrients).

Trees that are chemically fertilized also stop working with beneficial soil life such as earthworms and mycorrhizal fungi, leading to a decrease in resistance to drought, pests, and diseases.

Mycorrhizal fungi promote many aspects of plant life, in particular improved nutrition, better growth, stress tolerance, and disease resistance.

Department of Biology, University of Fribourg, Switzerland

As the tree stops feeding these beneficial soil organisms, soil quickly turns into dirt.

On the other hand, compost provides more than sufficient nutrients, improves the soil’s water retention, and increases the tree’s overall health.

For example, it was found that every 1% increase in the soil’s richness or organic matter leads to an additional 20,000 gallons of water held per acre.

It’s no wonder that many gardeners are replacing their chemical fertilizers with compost.

Organic fertilizers are different than chemical fertilizers. Instead of being made of mined or synthetic nutrients, they’re commonly made of selected concentrated natural nutrients such as chicken manure (nitrogen), oyster shells (calcium), and kelp (potassium).

I recommend applying 2 inches of compost every 1-2 months under your fruit tree’s canopy. Keep it at least 3 inches away from the trunk to avoid mold buildup.

And mulch takes this a giant step further.

Recommended: Create an Amazing Homemade Fertilizer for Your Fruit Trees

3. Mulch

using my cover crops as mulch
Using my cover crops as mulch for my fruit trees.

After you provide your fruit trees with compost, consider applying mulch. Here’s a list of the many benefits of mulch:

  • Weed Prevention
  • Reduced Groundwater Evaporation
  • Soil Temperature Regulation
  • Soil Erosion Prevention
  • Extra Nutrients

The reason why mulch is so essential is that fruit trees evolved as understory plants in forests. Simply, they required protection and mulch from other trees (in the form of fallen branches and leaves).

As permaculture guru Geoff Lawton often says, a forest grows from a fallen forest.

Pro-Tip: Instead of raking and tossing your yard’s leaves, use them as mulch for your fruit trees. Cycle those nutrients back onto your property instead of sending them to the landfill.

Both planted and potted fruit trees can benefit from mulch.

If you live in a tropical or subtropical climate (zones 9-11), or a dry climate, mulching fruit trees is even more essential to keep moisture in the soil and prevent the sun and wind from drying it out. This also makes your job easier as you don’t have to water nearly as often.

However, you don’t need pine mulch specifically. Use leaves, pine needles, grass clippings, or other vegetative scraps as mulch. This is a super easy and affordable way to recycle nutrients on your property.

Final Thoughts

Fruit trees are some of the most sensitive plants as they naturally grow after the pioneer plants have arrived (such as pine, acacia, and mesquite).

ecological succession
Ecological Succession, Image source: Britannica.com

These pioneer plants are designed to grow in difficult conditions and establish the soil and canopies—dramatically helping fruit trees and other sensitive plants to grow.

This is why building healthy soil is the best and first thing to do before planting fruit trees. We often do the opposite and plant fruit trees and then build the soil. It’s no wonder why so many of them die on us.

Hopefully, my above list of tools prevents or solves many issues you’d run into with your fruit trees. We’ll be updating the list as we go, so make sure to stay tuned!

If your fruit trees currently have issues such as brown or dropping leaves, some of my recent posts below may help:

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