Orchard Guilding

What is “Guilding”?

Guilding (or companion planting) is a specific polyculture technique used to improve fertility, confuse pests, attract beneficial insects, as well as provide increased yields.  Guilds are typically set up around a central fruit tree and consist of several plant species that performs one or more functions that benefit others in the vicinity, as well as interacting with animal species and soil microorganisms to create a resilient ecosystem.

Some KEY FUNCTIONS to be sure to include when designing a Fruit Tree Guild are:

  • Suppress (reduce competition with grasses & weeds)

  • Attract (lure in pollinators & predators of pests)

  • Repel (drive away pests)

  • Mulch (shade the soil & create leaf litter to build soil in situ)

  • Accumulate (concentrate scarce nutrients to enrich the soil)

  • Fix Nitrogen (convert nitrogen from the air into the soil)


GUILD NICHES: Mimicking Nature

Mimicking nature will achieve the best results when designing landscapes.  So we look to the way forests naturally grow when designing and planting resilient orchard guilds by increasing cooperation and reducing competition.

Forest LayersThe main layers of a forest are:

  1. Overstory

  2. Midstory

  3. Woody Understory

  4. Herbaceous Understory

  5. Groundcover Layer

  6. Root Layer

  7. Climbing Layer


Adapting this Forest Layering Pattern to a guild in an orchard setting, will look something like this:

guild layers






simple guild

apple guild