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Espalier Pruning Advice

661 Views 20 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Shibumi
Good day to all and happy spring (or still late winter depending on where you are).

I have what has been an attempt at an apple espalier, Belgian fence style, in my yard. I've made a mess of things and am considering options to fix it. My first thought is to top the trees below the first laterals and let the trees push fresh buds that will be easy to train.

I am sure there will be hidden dormant buds on the trunks even though they are hard to identify on the trunk as opposed to smaller limbs. I've included photos of each tree base.

There is already some growth on some of the I know I will sacrifice some energy that has already moved into the limbs, but the trees are already several years old so there should be plenty of energy still on the root system to push ample growth.

Any ideas from those more experienced would be appreciated.
Plant Tree Twig Fruit Grass
Plant Flowerpot Houseplant Grass Terrestrial plant
Plant Flowerpot Wood Terrestrial plant Grass
Plant Flowerpot Houseplant Terrestrial plant Groundcover
Twig Plant Vegetation Trunk Wood
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I think you have lots to work with. Take it from here.
With regular traditional orchards or with espaliered trees, the first thing to do is always to build the structure you want. This takes time and requires much patience. Few branches will start as sprouts that are truly inclined where you want them to go. I like to take sprouts that come out a little below where I want them and carefully train them while they're flexible. If you have two going the same way, keep them both and choose the best one in a year or two or three. Espaliers using horizontal arms are the most common, but these require almost constant attention throughout the year. If you use a fan-style pattern, there isn't so much constant correction. With a fan pattern, you must allow the branches to grow longer than with horizontal arms, and that may call for more support. The area close to the trunk will be needed for the bases of the fan arms in later years. Fruit close to the trunk will not be an option. You might consider planning ahead for higher support for when the branches reach that height and begin to bear.
We always plant orchards for the next generation, and this is true of espaliered trees, too. But espaliered trees are also works of art. Make sure your signature in the corner will make those who see it nod in recognition of someone with skill and patience and a good eye. Do the very best job you can, and that will be good enough. I wish you well.
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Your head is working fine and I think you will find a good way. All the best to you.
What if you took the first level horizontal and let some twigs come up on the outer edges, then took the upper level and made a fan? If there's enough room, you can work your own magic.
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I didn't see that they were planted so close together. That's a factor that really limits your choices. I'd cut the middle three out and extend the line somewhere else. Five trees in eight feet is absurd.
I'll just call it ambitious!

I need to check which variety is which for pollination purposes if I'm going to eliminate some.

Or figure out which variety you need for the remaining two and plant one somewhere nearby. Two trees only eight feet apart are still ridiculous.
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