Peach trees are stone fruit trees that are self-fertile. This makes them a great addition to backyards, because you only need one tree to actually produce fruit. Most peach trees live for about twelve years but don't produce fruit for the first couple of years while the tree matures. In order to get the best possible fruit production from your tree, you'll have to take proper care of it, which starts before you even plant it. Here's a look at some of the things you should know to ensure that your peach tree thrives and produces lots of fruit.

Start With the Right Location

Start by selecting a sunny spot to plant the tree. Peach trees do best with a full day of direct sunlight. You'll also want to have nutrient-rich, well-draining soil where you plant the tree. This keeps the roots healthy and prevents them from being drowned due to excess water retention in the soil.

Select the Right Sapling

When you shop for your peach tree sapling, you'll want to be sure that you get one that will thrive. Select a sapling that's as close to a year old as possible. Look for a tree that's small and healthy with a balanced, sturdy root system. Don't buy a tree with a knotted, root-bound root system, because it isn't likely to thrive. You'll know root-bound root systems by looking at them. If the roots form a mat-layer around the root ball, that's a root-bound tree. Instead, look for roots that are fairly loose with visible soil throughout.

Plant it Properly

Plant your peach tree right after the last frost of the year. This means you'll be doing your planting very early in the spring. Start by digging a hole that's as wide and deep as the root system on the tree. That way, you'll be able to plant it securely. Loosen and till the soil in the planting hole if it's compacted, because you'll need that for aeration and drainage.

Fill the hole with room-temperature water. Let the water sit to soak into the surrounding soil while you prepare the tree. Then, take the burlap off the tree, if there is any. Then, lay it on its side so you can brush away any excess soil from the roots. Don't pull on the roots, though, because that can damage them. Trim the roots back by about a third of their length to help restore them and encourage growth. Use your best measurement judgment to identify a third of the length, but don't trim beyond about half of the root length so that you don't damage the tree.

Put the tree in the middle of the planting hole. Then, fill the hole so that the soil mounds up gently around the trunk of the tree. Push the soil up against the tree so that the trunk is supported and upright. Then, water the soil thoroughly.

Prune it Carefully

Right after you plant the tree, you'll want to prune it so that it creates a vase-like shape. Eliminate any low branches as well as any that are broken or diseased. Repeat this twice a year every year throughout the tree's lifespan so that you keep fresh, healthy growth on the tree at all times. Late fall and early spring are the best times to do this. Cut the branches and stems flat to the tree so that there's nothing residual to grow back.

Feed and Water it Sufficiently

Make sure you're watering the tree every week. Peach trees need an inch or two of watering every week, including rain. You'll probably want to give it a little more than that during the summer months. Aim for slow, deep watering over the rapid,shallow flooding that can happen if you just dump water. A hose with a slow trickle around the base of the tree ensures absorption.

After the first year, fertilize the soil every spring with a slow-release fertilizer that's nearly perfectly balanced. Granular fertilizer is usually easiest to apply and should be spread a foot or so out from the trunk when you apply it. Follow that application with a thorough watering to help it absorb into the soil and reach the roots.

With the right preparation, selection and care, you'll be able to grow a fabulous harvest of peaches every year after the first couple of growth years. Peach trees thrive in many climates, so talk with a landscaper for more info on whether your yard is a good place to plant one.