Espalier apple tree in blossom

Create an espalier fruit tree screen

Discover how to create a beautiful and productive screen for your garden using espalier fruit trees.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
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To do
To do

Do To do in January

Do To do in February

Do To do in March

Do not To do in April

Do not To do in May

Do not To do in June

Do not To do in July

Do not To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do To do in November

Do To do in December

If you’d like to grow fruit but think you didn’t have the space, why not grow some espalier fruit trees? Espaliers are grown on dwarfing root stocks that have their lateral branches trained horizontally, encouraging them to grow outward rather than upward. This means they take up hardly any room – ideal for smaller spaces.

You can plant an espalier fruit tree against a sunny wall or fence – or use several trees to create a beautiful, see-through screen in place of a fence or hedge. Find out how to create an espalier fruit tree screen, using apples or pears – or a mix of both – below.

Use several trees to create a beautiful, see-through screen in place of a fence or hedge.
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You Will Need

  • Garden spade
  • Organic matter, such as well-rotted manure or garden compost
  • Sharp grit
  • Timber posts
  • Bucket of water
  • Tape measure
  • Bare-root espalier fruit trees
  • Drill
  • Steel hooks
  • Barrel strainer
  • Steel wire
  • Garden twine
  • Watering can

Total time:

Step 1

Espalier fruit tree screen - digging the hole
Espalier fruit tree screen – digging the hole

Prepare your soil well – the better the soil, the better the plants will establish and the sooner you’ll have fruit. Add lots of organic matter and some sharp grit.

Step 2

Espalier fruit tree screen - fixing the posts
Espalier fruit tree screen – fixing the posts

Espaliers need to be trained to a wall or on wires fixed to posts. The posts need to be secured in the ground. We screwed timber posts to old fence posts that were concreted in.

Step 3

Espalier fruit tree screen - soaking the rootball
Espalier fruit tree screen – soaking the rootball

To create a joined up line of espaliers, plant trees around 3m apart. Before planting, give the roots a thorough soak, submerging in a bucket of water for at least 10 minutes.

Step 4

Espalier fruit tree screen - measuring the tree
Espalier fruit tree screen – measuring the tree

The horizontal branches on ready-trained espalier trees are usually at regular spaces. Measure the spaces, then transfer the measurements to the posts with pencil marks.

Step 5

Espalier fruit tree screen - fixing the cables
Espalier fruit tree screen – fixing the cables

Drill a small pilot hole, then insert a steel hook. To this, fix a barrel strainer. Attach a length of steel wire to the strainer, and repeat on the opposite timber post. Tighten the wire.

Step 6

Espalier fruit tree screen - planting the tree
Espalier fruit tree screen – planting the tree

Dig a pit twice as wide as the roots. If against a fence, position the trunk 20cm from the base; 30cm from a wall. Fan the roots out and ensure the graft (stem bulge) is above ground.

Step 7

Espalier fruit tree screen - tying the stems to the wires
Espalier fruit tree screen – tying the stems to the wires

Tie the branches to the wire, by making a loop around the wire, then a second loop around the stem. This prevents damage or disease caused by the stem rubbing the wire.

Step 8

Espalier fruit tree screen - watering the tree
Espalier fruit tree screen – watering the tree

Firm the roots in well using your heel, then water thoroughly with a full can of water. Water once a week during the first growing season, more during dry weather.

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