Espalier Training Your Fruit Trees Using Galvanized Wire

There are many situations where fruit bushes can be grown. The only essential requirement is plenty of sunlight and a deep fertile soil. This can mean positioning fruit trees out in the centre of your lawn, creating an orchard or planting grapes in a sunny greenhouse to provide the ideal growing conditions. However if you find that that only sun in your garden is along a south facing wall; then free not, as you can still enjoy a range of fruits in the limited space you’ve got. The answer to your problem is espalier training and the use of galvanised wire to tie your young fruiting bushes to the wall as they grow.

Espalier training is a slow process but it will give great results and is a very attractive way to grow fruits and make the most out of an existing garden wall. Espalier training is a traditional method of training plants where they are pruned and encouraged to grow in a two-dimensional form along an existing sunny wall. The use of galvanised wire is to support and hold the young branches in place while they are young and until they are able to support themselves. This two dimensional form optimises the amount of light that the plant receives, it optimises the amount of fruiting stems and it optimises your use of space.

To create an espalier fruit first choose the type of fruit that you want to grow, apples and pears are two very suitable fruits to grow as espalier in Ireland. Buy the plants when they are young so that they can be trained easily. Apple trees that are about 3 years old are most ideal.

Next choose the location; the best location is along a south or south east facing wall. Positioning against a wall is ideal as the wall will absorb and hold light and therefore increase temperatures for longer.  You will probably find that the trees will need to be planted about a foot out from the wall and lean them in towards it. This will along for best soil conditions and best moisture conditions

Next choose the layout or shape of the espalier; the most common form is known as the horizontal cordon. This is a form where a stem plant is used with lateral stem trained out horizontally along a single main stem.  This is the easiest espalier to form and give optimum light levels to the fruiting stems.

Galvanised wire is positioned horizontally along the wall at spacing of approx 20 inches. Use a masonry drill bit to drill holes into the wall. Place a rawl plug into the wall and screw a large bolt or hook into the wall. Tie the galvanised wire to the bolt and pull it tightly fixing it to the opposite bolt creating a horizontal tier. Continue this up along the wall create a number of horizontal tiers.

As the tree grows prune and train the branches to the existing galvanised wire. Train your fruit tree each spring to encourage these few lateral stems, while removing those that conflict with the form you can trying to create. Lateral branches that will form the final shape of the espalier may need to be tied in place using more galvanised wire. In time these branches will take on the shape you have encouraged and the wire can be removed.