Plant and maintain an apple tree by planting it with full sun exposure in loamy soil, preparing the planting site, mulching the tree with organic material and watering it regularly. An apple tree requires pruning once a year to eliminate weak or awkward limbs that can break under heavy fruiting.
Select a planting site that has access to full sunlight with east or north exposure on a slight rise or slip, the latter of which keeps cold air from settling along the tree's base. The location also needs to be a northern climate because apple trees require a certain amount of chill hours and winter dormancy to set blossoms in the spring.
Use well-drained soil with a neutral pH. To improve drainage, work a generous layer of organic material into the top 12 to 18 inches of soil. Dig a hole that's far wider than the tree's root ball and at least 2 feet deep. Place the tree's roots in the hole, and spread them out. Fill in the holes with the soil, tamping it down around the roots. Add a thick layer of straw or hay mulch around the tree to keep the soil moist.
During the late winter before new growth appears, prune the tree by cutting back any leggy, weak or upright stems. As the tree fruits, thin out the blossoms to encourage bigger apple growth.