Three ways to train a fruit tree

Three ways to train a fruit tree

Discover three ways to train fruit trees so that they look attractive but take up little space - as cordons, espaliers or fans.

By planting trained trees in shapes such as espaliers, cordons and fans, you can fit apples, pears and more into the smallest of gardens. Either growing flat against a wall or fence, or as a garden divider or screen, trained fruit trees make an attractive feature. Despite being deciduous, they look good all year round, offering blossom in spring, delicious fruits and attractive foliage from summer to autumn, and dramatic shapes through the winter.

Discover five great trees for small gardens.

Trained trees can provide you with a surprisingly large crop in a small space, and as the fruit should be in easy reach, you can pick it before it falls. You can buy trees ready-trained, mainly from specialist fruit nurseries, or train them yourself from scratch.

Here are the three main trained tree types to grow.

Advertisement

Single cordon

This is a single stem with short fruiting spurs evenly spaced along it. Prune in the summer, cutting sideshoots that are over 23cm long, back to three leaves from where the current season's growth begins. Once it has reached the top wire, prune the leading shoot back to a leaf joint at the required height. Many fruits can be grown this way, including apples, cherries, plums and damsons

Espalier

This attractive, symmetrical form has a central trunk and two more more pairs of 'arms', trained horizontally on each side. It's usually grown flat against a wall. Prune the arms like cordons. Pears and apples can be trained as espaliers. Find out how to prune apple trees in summer.

Fans

An ornamental and productive form for a wall, with straight branches fanning out from two to four main branches, originating from a very short trunk. Remove shoots growing outwards. As it matures, remove older fruited sideshoots and train in new ones. Used for cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines and figs.

By planting trained trees in shapes such as espaliers, cordons and fans, you can fit apples, pears and more into the smallest of gardens. 

Advertisement

Fruiting spur

Spurs are short branches on apple and pear trees that flower and set fruit. Pruning encourages the tree to grow more spurs – giving you more fruit.

Discover more ideas and inspiration

Related content

Choosing a fruit-tree rootstock

Pruning fruit trees in summer

10 tips for a great fruit harvest

Related offers

Offer

Subscriber only content

Save 15% on fruit trees

Save on three fruit tree varieties, including apples 'Christmas Pippin' and 'Core Blimey', plus ever-popular pear 'Conference'. Grafted on semi-dwarfing rootstocks, all three are ideal for smaller gardens.

Unlock now

SAVE 20%

Farmer Gracy 20 per cent off Crocosmia

Save 20% on crocosmia

Enjoy vibrant colour in the garden summer after summer with savings on crocosmia. You'll save 20 per cent on crocosmia corms when you order now. Corms will be delivered in March 2018 ready for spring planting.

Use code: BBCGWCRO20

Order now

Offer

Apple 'Ellison's Orange'

An excellent alternative to Cox, ‘Ellison’s Orange’ is much easier to grow, is self-fertile and does not require a pollinator. Buy a bare-root tree for just £17.50 (saving £3) with this offer.

Order now