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Don't sit under the (smaller) apple tree with anyone else but me! Tree varieties for your tiny yard

A young, small apple tree covered with heavy, ripe red apples.
joannatkaczuk/Getty Images/iStockphoto
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iStockphoto
Several dwarf varieties of apple trees can make great choices to grow in your smaller yard or landscape. Though they provide fewer apples, their diminutive size can add beauty in compact spaces.

If you've done any pick-your-own at your local apple orchard, you'll notice that a lot of these orchardists are planting smaller trees that often are less than 15 feet tall.

These dwarf trees produce fruit a little bit sooner and fit in a smaller space. So if you have a small yard, or an area that doesn't have a lot of sun throughout the yard, planting these smaller variety apple trees can work well.

And because of their size, they're a lot easier to take care of as far as pruning, spraying and harvesting.

Look for ones that have "dwarfing" rootstocks on them. This rootstock will dwarf the size of the tree by about 75%.

So a tree that's normally 40 feet tall as a standard tree would grow to about a 10-foot-tall tree.

These smaller variety apple trees do have a few downsides. One is that they don't have a strong root system and can blow over in a strong storm.

Often, they need to be staked or trellised. Another potential drawback is that they don't produce as much fruit as a semi dwarf or a standard sized tree.

Another version of these trees is called a columnar apple tree. Columnar apple trees like this one, called North Pole, only grow to about six feet tall and mature in a straight pole-like trunk with stubby branches where they produce 10 or 12 apples each season.

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Ken, in Trumbull, CT on his many fig trees

"I live in Connecticut. And I probably have the largest portable fig orchard in the country of 117 fig trees in big pots that I take in and out of my garage.

I take them out in March, leave them out, water them and then I harvest the figs in September and let the leaves drop off in November. And I put them back into my underground garage.

And I've been doing this for 25 years! I've taught my grandkids how to cultivate them. And along with having 117 of my own in my yard that I pull out of the garage every year, I've probably given away another 75 or so to friends and relatives as they come by can." - Ken in Trumbull, CT

Q: We planted a brown turkey (fig). Tor two years, we had it in a big pot and then planted it in the ground, protecting it with burlap each winter. Over the summer it thrives into a tree. Two years ago it developed a few figs. Last year I had maybe 30. I had high hopes that they turn brown and mature with the long warm fall we had but they didn't. Would you have any suggestions? - Sue, in Richmond

Q: A brown turkey fig is a good variety for trying and so is Hardy Chicago. The fact that you got the fig tree to come back is great!

The downside is it will take a lot of energy for that tree to grow back up from the ground every year and get big enough to start producing fruit and then maturing that fruit.

It's not so much getting the fruit to actually set but to get it to mature and you'll need heat for that.

If you can somehow fashion a structure around that fig tree so you can get more heat and more protection in August and September when it's getting cooler at night and the figs are trying to ripen, that might hasten the ripening.

Of grow them in containers and put the fig trees in the sunniest warmest spot that you have. That way they'll have enough heat so they actually will mature those figs and you'll have them by September.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes. You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling VPR at (802) 655-9451.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition Sunday with VPR host Mary Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

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Mary Engisch is the host and reporter for Weekend Edition Saturday and Weekend Edition Sunday on VPR.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on VPR. Be part of the fun and send your gardening questions here, for Charlie to answer on the air. Plus, find lots of great gardening tips and information for all seasons here. For more gardening information, check out Charlie's website, Gardening with Charlie Nardozzi. Charlie is a guest on VPR's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.