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espalier resurrection


We have two apple trees and one pear tree in a South facing bed that I believe are espalier varieties. When we bought the house a few years ago the posts and wires were in a bad state of repair and so I took them down. The trees still produce a lot of fruit but are a bit wild and out of shape.

I'd now like to resurrect them. Does anyone have any advice on how and when we should cut back the trees so that we can then train them along a new espalier line?

Has anyone got any advice on how to setup an espalier?

Thanks in advance


  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    Are there any wires on the fence? That would be a good starting point. There are some good guides on YouTube as to how to train them. Looking at what you have, I don’t think it would be too tricky. 

    Put some manure on in the autumn/ spring to feed them up. 
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    I’m away at the moment and on my phone so it’s not easy to link vids for you. But this one is ok, think. Overkill on the eyes and boards, I’d say. Regular vine eyes work for me. 

  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    This is a nice and clear video. 

    Good to clear back and plants or grass around the base of the trees that might be competing for water or nutrient. A metre diameter clear around the base. As the vid says, make sure no overhanging shrubs or trees are blocking the light for the trees. This allows the fruit to fully ripen. 

  • purplerallimpurplerallim Posts: 4,836
    Now is the time to cut out unwanted growth on espalier trees( unlike winter pruning on regular shaped trees) @joemchambers87K5QLaOQN they are different to regular trees in this respect.
    Apples need constant training, so will need a permanent support building. Mine are free standing, so have built a wooden frame to train them to. Yours need all the new growth, without fruit, cutting back to two buds. This will thin it maybe enough to see what it's shape is under all that growth, then you can start to pick what to train. It will take a couple of years to do this as it's not a good idea to cut more than a third at one time.
    This is a before and after of my 6yo trees this year.

    Hope this helps.
  • Thanks purplerallim for your help, very useful. Was expecting to prune after fruiting but good to know I should be getting on with it now!

  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    edited August 2022
    It will be easier to see and curate the basic structure of your esp trees in winter, when the leaves are fallen.

    We usually prune twice a year - once around August and once around Jan. 

  • purplerallimpurplerallim Posts: 4,836
    Espalier and fan shapes are a law unto themselves @Fire 🙄 I find it quite hard to do the summer cut back, and with all the leaves and fruit it makes it twice as difficult. But since doing so my quantities of apples have increased. On another thread you mentioned fruit production, and doing this may help increase this.
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    I'm pretty happy with mine, but it has taken a while.
  • purplerallimpurplerallim Posts: 4,836
    Well they are supposed to take about 5 years to get going @Fire 😁
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    Ahhh. Thanks for that. 😆
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