Question on espalier fruits?

I have a landscape client wanting to put a row of espalier fruits along his fence line. He hopes to keep them 6’ tall x 12’ wide (should be no problem). He wants to start the espaliers himself so I am hunting for SMALL pear or apple trees bare-root.

All sources I find on bare-root pears have trees 4’ or 5’ tall. I suppose they can be cut back to start the correct form but was hoping to find smaller trees. Perhaps I will find better luck with small apple trees.

My client asks IF peaches and plums can be espalier successfully? I have no idea since I always see only pear and apple when I find espalier. Anyone have an answer if Prunus can be grown this way?


Regarding pear and apple, it is recommended by some to top the young tree at 20cm above the first wire. Then keep it at that height until the first level is filled in completely. When you top it, it should stimulate lower buds. Select two, one on each side to grow out. I have read that you can espalier plum and not peach. The apples and pears are the easiest.

Plums for sure can be espaliered.Here’s a video from Dave Wilson Nursery,with the first part showing a Pluerry.They did one on a Burgundy Plum but wasn’t able to locate it.
Peaches,I haven’t seen that done yet.

Peaches and other tip-bearing fruits are generally not recommended for espalier. However, peaches and plums can be fan-trained, which produces a similar effect in terms of a two-dimensional tree. In landscaping terms, a fan-trained peach and/or plum might be a nice feature in a wall/fence of espaliered fruit. (Something I’ve been thinking about trying myself.)

Some plums can also be grown as cordons, which is a simple form of espalier. Growing plums in this way is generally considered to involve a higher degree of difficulty than apples or pears, but from what I understand, it’s not uncommon in Europe.

I don’t have it right to hand, but from what I remember, the site for the Royal Horticultural Society has an informative step-by-step, year-by-year guide to fan-training peaches and cordon-training plums.

If your client wants the full experience of training the tree, you might think about grafting them to new rootstock for him. That’s what I did, and it was fun, though there was a significant learning curve since I was starting as a novice.

In terms of training the trees, one tip I would offer is that I have found notching to be a much more effective way of encouraging the desired branching than just heading things back and hoping that the tree will take care of the rest. (Though some heading is still involved.) Wish I had learned that one sooner!

Thanks everyone for the help!