Fruit on walls

Grow­ing fruit trees flat against a wall or along a wire is a great way to pro­duce a lot of fruit in a small space.

Go Gardening - - Editorial -

Es­palier tree train­ing is an age-old art orig­i­nat­ing in Europe where very old es­palier fruit trees can be found grow­ing on brick and plas­ter walls. This method of tree train­ing is be­com­ing pop­u­lar with New Zealand gar­den­ers keen to cre­ate an at­trac­tive for­mal fea­ture or grow more fruit in lim­ited space.

Es­palier trees are of­ten grown against a wall, tra­di­tion­ally brick or plas­ter. Al­ter­na­tively, they can be sup­ported by a strong post and wire struc­ture. This cre­ates a part-wall, per­fect for di­vid­ing ar­eas of a gar­den while still re­tain­ing sun­light and vis­i­bil­ity.


1De­cide on a pat­tern to suit the type of fruit tree you are grow­ing (see right).

2Choose a sunny lo­ca­tion. Most fruit trees need a min­i­mum of six hours of di­rect sun­light.

3Choose the plant and ap­pro­pri­ate root­stock. As most es­paliered trees are sub­jected to in­tense prun­ing and ‘brak­ing’ of growth, semi-dwarf or vig­or­ous root­stocks should be used in all but the most fer­tile soils. Gen­er­ally, any fruit tree va­ri­ety can be es­paliered, but se­lect­ing a dis­ease-re­sis­tant va­ri­ety will en­sure min­i­mal spray­ing is re­quired.

4Pre­pare the sup­port. You will need to fix wires to a struc­ture that will sup­port your es­palier. Th­ese will be used to train the branches at de­sired an­gles. Wires can be spaced 30cm to 60cm apart. With fences and walls, fix the wires us­ing eye­bolts to keep the plant away from the struc­ture and al­low air flow be­hind the plant. Us­ing turn­buck­les to keep the wires taut is rec­om­mended.

5Plant your tree. Set the plant in the ground about 30cm from the wall to al­low room for root growth.

6Start train­ing your tree. Use soft cloth (like strips of tee shirt fab­ric) to tie the branches, mak­ing sure the end 20cm of hor­i­zon­tal branches is left un­tied oth­er­wise the growth will slow or cease.

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