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Espalier Pronunciation:

An espalier pronunciation is ( is-PAL-yuhr )

Personal Anecdote:

True story: looooooooong true story :)
Years ago when some of my children were still very young, we moved to a new subdivision. The house was fine, but the yard was a lot smaller now that we were living in it.
I looked at my small backyard through my kitchen window and asked myself 1 question.
Self, what do you want out of this yard?
Self replied with 2 answers;
I want a teaching garden and a little bit of privacy.

The next spring I bought 5 dwarf fruit trees and the only way I could grow them was against the brand new fence.
First I cut the fruit tree leaders and went about training the rest of the branches against the fence. I didn't know there was a name for it ( espalier ) until my kids were in their teens. I was just improvising. :)
When we sold the house, the new owners were amazed that I had fruit trees in my backyard.

Now that kids are gone; we are building a new home in the country and I finally have the backyard of my dreams.
I am still espaliering trees, but this time to delineate a vegetable garden with fruit and beauty. The local wild-life, loves it as well. :)

Espalier fruit trees combine history, artistry and practicality to create a unique and productive gardening technique. Whether you're a novice gardener or a seasoned enthusiast, espalier offers endless possibilities for creating beautiful and fruitful landscapes. With proper care and attention, espalier trees can thrive for years and providing a stunning focal point for any garden.

So, what is Espalier?

Espalier is a tree or ornamental shrub that is trained, pruned and grown in a flat plane. Although sometimes trained as a free-standing, espaliered trees and plants are usually trained against a wall in a defined pattern.

History of Espalier

• The practice of espalier dates back to ancient times, with evidence of its use in Roman gardens.
• It gained popularity in medieval Europe, particularly among monasteries and nobility, where it was used to grow fruit in confined spaces.
• Espalier was also favored in Renaissance gardens for its decorative appeal and practicality. Most of the wall gardens in UK use espaliered fruit trees.

What are the benefits of Espaliered Fruit Trees?

Espaliered fruit trees are ideal for those that want fresh fruit, but have limited space.
Dwarf fruit trees and decorative espalier training can increase your yard's potential for fruit production.
Although dwarf espalier trees are small their yield per space are quite high.
Out of 1 espaliered apple tree, I pick enough fresh fruit for eating, apple pies, apple crisp, cake and juice. Oh and they look like large shiny jewels on the tree. Wasps love them too.
Space-saving: Espalier allows fruit trees to be grown in small spaces such as urban gardens or along walls.
Increased fruit production: Pruning encourages fruiting spurs to develop along the branches, resulting in higher yields.
Aesthetic appeal: Espalier trees can be trained into intricate patterns, adding beauty and interest to the garden.
Espalier fruit trees can also be grown in containers, making them suitable for balconies and patios.

Choosing the Right Tree for Espalier:

I planted dwarf fruit trees that my family like.
For best results I started with apples and pears according to my gardening books.
Apples and Pears bear on long-lived short spurs and can be trained relatively easily to many different shapes.
Trees that bear on short-lived spurs, such as peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums and cherries are more difficult. In order to maintain fruit yield on these trees you need to prune to provide a constant source of new wood to maintain fruit yield.
I have espalier apples, pears, cherries, plums and peaches. I love the look of a well maintained espalier fruit tree.

Planting & Training Espalier Trees

You can espalier a tree anywhere you can place a trellis. Driveway edges, edge of a vegetable and flower garden. Espalier edge of fruit trees around a deck or patio as a screen. I have an edge of espalier fruit trees and grapes around my vegetetable garden.

Training Espaliers:

You can buy fruit trees that are already trained in a pot.
Also fruit trees that grafted into 1 standard fruit tree are easy for me to espalier.
I usually buy 4-in-one standard fruit trees.
I plant the fruit tree as usual and then just tie the branches to the bamboo trellis. First year of training I tie it loosely, because sometimes the branches will break if too tight on the trellis. Then the next year, I tighten the espalier branches closer to where I want them to be.

Controlling Growth and Increasing Yields:

Through the growing season, remove branches that are not growing in the right direction. You want the espalier to be flat against the support.
Do not let fruiting spurs develop closer than 5 -7 inches apart.
In the late summer, when shoots are longer than 9 inches and the bark is starting to turn from green to brown at he base, trim back to three leaves beyond where growth began in the spring. This will encourage the development of fruit spurs at the base of the branch in the next growing season.


While espalier fruit trees offer many benefits, they also require careful attention to pruning, training, and maintenance to achieve the desired shape and maximize fruit production. I have my espalier at eye-level it's a pleasure to send time with my fruit trees.
The initial training process may require patience and persistence, especially for intricate designs or less flexible tree varieties, but once it's done I feel like it's worth it.
Espalier trees is more susceptible to damage from wind, pests and diseases due to their exposed position.
Adequate support structures are essential to ensure the stability and longevity of espalier trees, especially in regions with harsh weather conditions. Check you ties during the growing season - I tie all of my branches loosely and even then I find that my branches are growing faster than I expected and the ties were strangling my branches.

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