The word espalier is French, but tomb paintings dating back to 1400 B.C. show that the ancient Egyptians sculpted fig trees in the espalier style. This method of training fruit trees, which combines horticulture and art, involves bending and shaping the trees against a trellis so that they grow in unnatural shapes. Anchor espalier trees against a wall, or create free-standing trees to serve as dividers between two garden rooms.
Things You'll Need
- Post hole digger
- 4-by-4 inch, pressure-treated landscaping posts, 8 feet long
- ¼-inch drill bit
- 6 screw-and-eye lag bolts
- 9-gauge wire
- Wire cutters
- Cloth ties
- Pruning shears
Measure and mark a 45-foot row of your espalier trees by hammering stakes into the ends of the rows and tying string between them. According to the University of Ohio Extension, you can plant between four and six espaliered trees on a two post trellis.
Dig post holes so that they align with the string. Dig the holes 2 feet deep next to the stakes at the ends of the row.
Insert the end of a post into each post hole. Add a layer of rocks to the bottom of each hole to prop the posts upright. Fill in the space around the posts in each hole with soil.
Drill a pilot hole into the inner side of the post for each screw-and-eye lag. Position the bottom pilot hole 24 inches off of the ground. Drill pilot holes up each inner side of the post at 24-inch intervals until you reach the top of the post. There should be three total pilot holes in each post spaced at 2-foot intervals in the post.
Screw a screw-and-eye lag into each pilot hole. Stretch 9-gauge wire between each lag bolt. Thread the ends of the wire into the lag bolts. Cut the ends of the wire with wire cutters so that they trail by several feet. Wrap the trailing end of the wire around the taut ends of wire to secure them.
Dig planting holes for your tree saplings between the two posts. If you are planting four espalier trees, space them every 11 feet. If you are planting six trees, space the planting holes every 7 feet.
Place each tree into the planting hole. Cover the root ball of the tree with soil. Gently bend the branches into the desired shape and tie them with soft cloth ties to the wire trellis. Snip off any branches that cannot be bent with pruning shears.
Tips & Warnings
- Dwarf apple trees make good trees for espalier.
- Photo Credit Design Pics/Valueline/Getty Images
How to Espalier a Tree
Espalier is an ancient form of gardening where fruit and flowering trees are trained into pleasing symmetry in a flat plane. Stretch...
How to Design and Build a Trellis
A trellis can be used to support flowers and vegetables. It can be both practical and beautiful. You can construct simple ones...
How to Espalier Camellias
Espaliering camellias (Camellia spp.) compresses the flowering shrubs onto a flat surface through continual pruning. This technique makes it possible to fit...
How to Build a Trellis for Beans
Beans are not only tasty and ornamental vegetables to grow, you can make growing them more fun by building supports. A bean...
How to Make a Blackberry Trellis
Thorny blackberry bushes are treacherous to prune, and the sharp thorns make harvesting the berries hazardous to hands and arms. Blackberries trained...
How to Build a Cable Trellis
A cable trellis has an airy look but can be a useful accessory in the home landscape. In places where existing masonry...
Espalier is a method of training a plant or tree to grow on a trellis, or wire, that is set against a...
How to Build a Trellis
Trellises range from small, unobtrusive backdrops rising out of a container to elaborate structures that can fill the length of a fence....