Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Fruit tree placement  (Read 2323 times)


  • Joined Jan 2013
Fruit tree placement
« on: October 18, 2014, 05:36:21 pm »
I understand it´s better to plant fruit trees and soft fruit earlier rather than later, so I´m asking now.

How close to a wall/foundation/structure can you plant a dwarf fruit tree?  I see lovely pics of potagers and patios with trees quite close to walls and bordering veggie beds, if not actually inside the bed, and I´m wondering about root invasion and cultivating around the root area.  I have a fantasy of a medieval garden, all neat and gridded.

In the case of an espalier, how close to the wall is the tree planted before risking damage to the wall?  Do you lean it back so when it´s the height for tieing it´s closer?  Or do you not actually attach it to the wall and rely on posts and wires?  How far apart would dwarf trees be spaced?

And finally, can any fruit tree be a step-over espalier or only apples and pears.  We don´t actually eat many apples, though I´d like a decent cooker or a couple of cider varieties.

Thank you for your thoughts.


  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Fruit tree placement
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2014, 07:43:40 pm »

I'm not sure about damage from the roots, but I went to a talk a few weeks ago, and the chap said apples will always do best right up against some sort of shelter like a wall.

This has certainly been true in our experience. Our geese ring-barked several trees two years ago, so I dug them up and replaced them. However, I put the 'dead' trees in next to our woodshed wall, just to see if they might survive.

Two years on, despite being in really rocky 'soil', the two that survived are now looking really good, and have overtaken their siblings that remained undamaged in the orchard!  :thumbsup:
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett


  • Joined Jul 2011
Re: Fruit tree placement
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2014, 10:58:33 pm »
I've seen lots of situatiosn with espaliers and cordons and fans right up against a wall.. dunno if it;s the quality of foudations or the fact that roots have an alternative route <??>.....

Classic step-over apples were on M29 rootsock. I doubt that cherries or plums would be happy trying to train them that horizontal; they're usually fanned rather than espaliered


  • Joined Aug 2009
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Fruit tree placement
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2014, 11:35:39 am »
The rootstock makes a big difference - some are more likely to damage your wall than others.
Our holding has Anglo Nubian and British Toggenburg goats, Gotland sheep, Franconian Geese, Blue Swedish ducks, a whole load of mongrel hens and two semi-feral children.

Carse Goodlifers

  • Joined Oct 2013
  • Perthshire
Re: Fruit tree placement
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2014, 01:42:55 pm »
I see on Gardeners World a week past Friday that Carol Klein mentioned that growing apples against a wall/fence as cordons is good as you can still get plenty fruit and you can get lots more varieties.

I realise that it wouldn't fit in with your plan for the garden but thought that I'd mention it anyway.

If planting against a wall I would plant about 1 foot away from the wall and lean the plant into the wall.  You will have to watch when conditions get dry for watering - plenty mulching.


  • Joined Jan 2013
Re: Fruit tree placement
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2014, 08:15:44 pm »
Thank you all!

So if there´s a space between a somewhat rickety drystack wall and a structure and all the trees would be dwarf:

Best to plant trees in a line along the wall, but a foot or two away and then leave a ?? mulched space before planting veg.?

Use the espalier to surround/divide planting bed areas, dedicating a 3-4 foot wide mulched bed for their root zone?

Both, neither?  :thinking:

Also - so apples and pears are OK for stepovers.  Plums? Quinces? Pomegranates?  Citrus?

Thanks again!


  • Joined Jul 2011
Re: Fruit tree placement
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2014, 10:34:38 pm »
steopover apples certainly. Pears I see no problem..except vigour. I've got peasr espaliered though cordons are perhaps more common.. Not sure about quince's basically a type of pear so ought to work. Plums I think you'ld have trouble with.. certainly need a solid frame to tie to 'cos they have enough of a habit of snapping branches when laden anyway. No idea about pomegranates - ad I;m guessing you're not in the UK. Citrus I do grow albeit in pots and cart them into a glasshouse for the winter. I did train one as a standard shape so they will shape... but shaping toa  step-over i don't know - probably... best bet would be lemon I'd expect. Grapefruit or pomello would just look daft. My limes and kumquats are just very bushy in habit - there may be other varieties. Limes tend to be bushy too. Probably some oranges would go.


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