Preparing the Site for a Fruit Garden


It is essential to prepare the site well in advance of planting any fruits to ensure that they receive the right conditions to flourish. All fruits need a soil that is reasonably fertile, sufficiently drained and well-structured. However, you should avoid siting most species in a position with very rich soil, as this will tend to encourage excess growth at the expense of fruit.

Carry out any improvement to the structure, pH or drainage of your soil at least two months before planting, making sure that you have removed all annual and perennial weeds before you start work.

Soil Structure

For all soils, dig in 1 spadeful of well-rotted manure or 2 of garden compost for each square metre of prepared soil to improve water retention. If your soil is very heavy, you may want to add in some sharp sand. You may also want to add in some slow acting fertiliser such as bonemeal; avoid using other fertilizers unless the soil is very poor and infertile as it may produce excessive, soft growth rather than fruiting wood.

Soil pH

The majority of fruits prefer a soil pH of 6-6.5; however, blueberries need an acidic soil at a pH of approximately 4-5.5. Lime any soil that is too acidic and apply a top-dressing of sulphate of ammonia and acid compost mulch for any soils that are too alkaline.


Poor drainage may be improved in any type of soil by enhancing its structure. This may be achieved by double digging, making sure that the topsoil and subsoil layers are not mixed. The addition of bulky organic matter (see above, Soil Structure) will help to bind the soil particles into crumbs, which will improve aeration and moisture retention. However, if the site is waterlogged, you may need to install a drainage system or, as a last resort, plant fruits in raised beds.


If you are planning to train the bush or tree against a wall or fence, then you will need to set up a series of horizontal, parallel support wires. These should be fixed 10-15 cm (4-6 in) away from the support so that air may circulate around the leaves and branches of the plant. The wire should be run through vine eyes and should include a tightener so that you keep the wires taut as the plant develops.