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How To Choose the Right Nut Tree for Your Yard
Americans are nuts for nuts. We like them roasted, candied, chopped up in muffins, kneaded into bread, stir-fried, as breading for fish or poultry, made into nut butter, and more. We use them in arts and crafts, crack and eat them whole, and even extract their oil. The uses for a bunch of nuts are limited only to your own creativity. Did we mention pecan pie?
If you'd like to take a crack at growing your own nuts, you are not nuts. Here are a few things to consider.
Time to Go Nuts
You may think that growing nut trees is playing the long game. Aren't those trees slow-growing? While you won't grow a full-sized nut tree in five years, nut trees don't wait until they are full-grown to start producing.
Like apple trees, nut trees will begin producing while they are still younger. Some may yield their first small crop of nuts only 3-5 years after planting if the site is suitable for their needs.
Full Sun vs. Partial Sun
Almost all nut trees will grow in partial shade, but they will be happier, grow faster, and produce more when planted in full sun. Assuming other needs are met, nut production, known as 'mast,' is directly related to the amount of energy the tree can harvest from the sun.
More leaves in the sun equals more nuts. That's why an oak tree in a sunny city park carpets the ground with acorns every autumn. It is getting all the sunny rays it wants.
Nut Trees – For You or For Wildlife?
Is your goal to harvest nuts for your kitchen or to provide food for wildlife? While a nut tree can do both, some are better suited for the kitchen than others. Acorns can be made into flour but aren't usually the nut of choice in recipes. They are beloved by wildlife. Pecans and chestnuts are excellent eating if you are prepared to race the squirrels and deer in your area.
Envision the Future
Nut Tree Space Requirements
Most nut trees are full-sized trees, eventually. While it may take most of a lifetime for a hickory tree to reach 80 feet tall and 40 feet wide, it will happen.
Even at younger ages, these trees can start to occupy a significant amount of space. If you have a compact yard or minimal space within your yard, look for nut trees with a smaller stature.
Other Competing Uses
Your yard likely serves several purposes. Play area, relaxation space, gardening spot, entertaining, dog run, and others. Consider not only the tree's needs when selecting a site to plant but also how a nut tree will fit into those other uses of your property.
Hundreds of nuts dropping in your swimming pool or pelting you while you grill could be a problem. You likely won't use a commercial nut harvesting machine, so you'll have to wait for them to fall to gather them.
Plant your nut trees in a spot where you can easily gather the nuts–not on a steep slope–and where they won't be a problem for other activities.
Do Nut Trees Need a Pollinator?
Like fruit trees, nut trees set a larger crop with a pollinator. Some won't bear a crop at all without a pollinator buddy tree. In the case of pecans, they are handily divided into Type 1 and Type 2 trees. You'll need one of each to get a crop of nuts. Pecans are wind-pollinated, so don't plant them too far from each other.
Nut trees make for a delicious addition to just about any backyard or garden. Similar to fruit trees or garden vegetables, growing your own nut tree will reward you with delicious nuts for you to snack on and use in recipes. At Perfect Plants, we offer over a dozen types of nut trees that produce many types of pecans and chestnuts.
Planting a nut tree in your backyard will offer tons of benefits. In addition to long term yields of nuts each season, nut trees also offer an aesthetic appeal and will even increase your home value down the line. All of our nut trees are shipped rooted in a nursery container with soil. Be sure to read our shipping policy for more information.
Are All Nuts From Nut Trees Edible?
It’s important to note that not all tree nuts are edible, especially straight from the branch. Some raw nuts need to be cooked before becoming edible, while others shouldn't be eaten by humans at all. Be sure to review each nut tree to better understand whether or not they’re safe to eat.
How Big Do Nut Trees Get?
Nut trees vary in size from species to species, but out of the nut trees for sale at Perfect Plants, many can grow up to 100 feet tall. If you plan to grow more than one nut tree, be conscious of their widths at maturity. Some of our nut trees grow up to 60 feet wide or more, so they’ll need ample space to grow.
How Long Does It Take A Pecan Tree To Produce Nuts?
It will take some time for your nut tree to start producing nuts. After only 2 to 3 years, pecan trees will start to produce a few edible nuts. Later on, with 6 or more years of planting, your nut tree will start to produce full harvests.
Do Nut Trees Need To Cross-Pollinate?
Without a cross-pollinator, many nut trees will not bear any nuts at all, so you’ll almost always need a second tree to encourage production. Nut trees are often self-incompatible, so they won’t be able to produce nuts with their own pollen.
How Often Should Nut Trees Be Watered?
Water your nut tree daily when first planted for at least a month so that they can become established. After the first month or so you will want to water your tree a few times a week unless there's rainfall or abnormal heat. The best way to tell if your tree needs water is by putting your finger in the soil knuckle deep and water if the soil is dry.
When to Prune a Nut Tree
Prune your nut trees in the early spring, while it’s still dormant but starting its growing season. You will want to avoid pruning nut trees in winter since this is when they are dormant and aren’t having new growth. This means that branches won’t be able to grow back as quickly.
Shop from a variety of nut trees for sale at Perfect Plants today.