It is more difficult to establish a pear tree in a location where the soil dries out. The soil conditions should ideally be moist and avoiding extremes of pH - a firm loam soil is ideal. Additionally, the planting site should be sheltered from any strong winds, avoiding a location where frost settles in a pocket.
Choose which variety of pear tree you want to plant, the factors to consider are the size of the tree (usually between 3 and 6 metres high), the variety and taste of the fruit, and the ease of pollination. Varieties such as conference pears are self-fertile, otherwise you will often need to plant a pair of trees to ensure fertilisation.
However, if you only want to plant one tree, in a densely populated area with a lot of gardens nearby, a matching pollinator for a single pear tree is quite likely, though not always guaranteed.
To plant a bare root, prepare the soil around one month before planting. Dig a hole 50 to 55 cm deep and 1.2 metres square. Mix in plenty of well-rotted organic material, bearing in mind that the soil needs to be at a medium level of fertility. If the location you have chosen is in the middle of a lawn, mix in a long-lasting fertiliser such as bone meal.
Place the tree in position and fill in with soil, with the soil surface at the same level as the soil mark on the trunk – ensure that the noticeable grafting ‘joint’ between the rootstock and the scion (the trunk above the join) is above the soil level by 5 cm or more.
Firm down the soil with your feet and water in thoroughly.
Some varieties of tree will need staking out – tie the trunk of the tree to the stake, which should be placed 8 to 10 cm away. Use plastic ties instead of metal, as these will not damage the tree’s trunk.
If you intend to train a tree to grow along a supporting fence or wall, choose a south-facing location and ensure that the supporting structure is not going to collapse when the tree bears fruit. A framework of horizontal wires will train the tree in position while also allowing it to support much of its own weight.
In addition to bare roots, you can also acquire already espaliered trees in pots. The distance of the wires in the framework should match the distance between the branches or ‘arms’ of the tree – usually around 35 to 50 cm apart. Plant out roots as above, digging the planting hole out from the side of the wall or fence.