Answer: I think dwarf or semi-dwarf trees are a great idea for the site you describe. Dwarf trees (depending upon root stock) will grow to about 7'; semi-dwarf 12-14 feet. In Riverside County you can have success with apricot, plum, nectarine and Asian pear trees. Their roots will help stablize the slope and you shouldn't have problems with rodents or snakes if you keep the ground clean. This means removing all vegetation beneath the trees to prevent hiding/nesting sites, and removing all fallen fruit so there won't be any food to attract rodents. Some of the varieties you might consider include TomCot apricot (which is self-fertile), 20th Century Asian Pear, Double-Delight nectarine, and either Japanese or European plums. Japanese varieties will need a second variety to act as a pollenizer; European plums are self-fertile. You might consider Beauty or Santa Rose japanese plums or Brook and Blue Damson European plums.
Best wishes with your new fruit trees!
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