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Trained Fruit Trees – A quick Guide

We love fruit trees, and you should too! Trained fruit trees are easily one of our most popular products, and it’s no wonder considering the many advantages they carry. Young trees are trained onto a flat framework, allowing for specific forms, aesthetics and functionality.

In a restricted space, such as small or urban gardens, they’re unbeatable. They’ll traditionally be found in sheltered, walled kitchen gardens, but look great in many situations. Formal, urban, rural and productive gardens are all good partners for a trained fruit tree.

Shape & Form

We’ve got two primary shapes sold online, though more may be available on request. The first is ‘Espalier’, formed of two tiers of horizontal branches. We’re currently offering these for apples and pears.


An Espalier fruit tree at our nursery

The second most popular form would have to be the ‘Fan’, which looks exactly like it sounds it should. An evenly spaced framework of fanned branches, that you can train to the height and width required.


Same nursery, different frame. Fanned trees remain extremely popular, and require planting against a wall.

Other shapes carry their own benefits. ‘Cordons’ consist of a single stem grown at an angle, with spurs coming off to maximise fruit in a limited space, ideal for production-focused gardens. ‘Step Overs’, an Espalier-like variant only one tier high, perfect for low division in a vegetable garden. If either of these sound interesting to you, don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll see what’s available.

Fruit and Protection

Not only can some shapes  (such as cordons) aid fruit growth, trained fruit trees are an excellent entry point to growing less hardy fruit, such as peaches and nectarines. Reflected heat from the wall benefits plant and fruit alike, while their compact size makes the plants easy to protect. Fasten a baton to the wall overhead and there’s plenty you can do to keep them safe. Such as:

Hang a fleece for night time for added protection from frosts

Netting can keep pesky birds away from your most valuable fruits while they ripen

Fleecing can reduce rain splash, and diseases like ‘peach leaf curl’, which is spread by the water-borne fungus Taphrina deformans


Additional Notes

As with any purchase, there are a few essential points to bear in mind:

All trained trees are best grown in the ground, rather than potted. Canopies only extend as far as the root network, and trained fruit trees rely entirely on the breadth of their two dimensional branch layout. You’ll need a vigorous rootstock for maximum results.

Attentive pruning is a must. It’s important to train the tree to the area wanted, and keep it generally in shape.

Remember, pollination rules apply! If you only want a single tree it will need to be self fertile, unless there are other fruit trees of the same species nearby.

Fans must be grown against a wall or fence. Espalier can be grown standing alone as a division, such as forming an attractive and productive barrier on either side of a path.

If your interest has been piqued in trained trees (and we certainly hope it has!) don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’ve got a number of variants available for ordering online, and being one of the UK’s largest tree suppliers, there are many other plant shapes on request. There’s always a team member on hand happy to help share planting and ordering advice, so call at any time.

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