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.
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.
A row of cordon fruit trees growing against a wall at Audley End House
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.
An espalier apple tree
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.
Training a small fruit tree into a fan
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.