Will planting evergreens next to an orchard make the soil inhospitable for the fruit trees?


We are looking to plant two to three evergreens for privacy. They would be planted next to our small “orchard,” mostly crabapples but we want to try grafting them.
Our question is whether evergreens can be planted next to an orchard or whether they would make the soil inhospitable for the fruit trees? The evergreens would need to be planted as close as 12-15′ to the fruit trees.


Jonathan Foster, Community Education Assistant

Planting the evergreens near your crabapple trees shouldn’t have any direct effect on the hospitality of your soil for fruit production. Many people will suggest that pine needle drop will acidify the soil, but there is a lack of strong data to back this belief up (concern for large pine trees in this kind of situation should really be that of root crowding). The factors you will want to pay more attention to are whether the adult version of your new plantings will block sunlight (not desirable) or wind (possibly very desirable), so make sure you carefully check your siting and how tall the evergreens will be at maturity. Very tall/very large plantings may shade your orchard or crowd your trees with large, shallow root systems.

One caution, as noted in this Univ of Minnesota resource, cedar trees are probably not your best bet, as cedar-apple rust can affect your crabapples.