Pruning Trained Fruit Trees
In small gardens, where space is limited, trained fruit trees are indispensable. Only a simple framework of poles and wire is needed. You can also use this method to train Lime. Plane, Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum altropurpureum) and Magnolia.
Popular Pruning Shapes
Umbrella shaped trees are very popular. When the trunk has reached the desired height, you need only tie the branches to a bamboo or wooden frame. Indeed, for an original alternative, providing quick results, you might also consider covering your framework in Ivy or Vine.
Another alternative is the old-fashioned trained fruit tree hedge, that has recently made a comeback. Plant your hedge in a row, with each tree at least 1.5m apart, and with all branches trained sideways. You should remove any branches growing the 'wrong' way. Depending on the height of the tree trunks, the bottom of the hedge can be either closed or bare.
With horizontally trained shapes, you have the choice of a formal or an informal style. The informal shapes are easy to grow and can hardly go wrong. All you do is grow a two-dimensional tree, from which you remove any branch that is growing in the wrong direction. Suitable trees are Pears (Bonne Louise and Conference), Plums (Reine Claude and Bleue de Belgique), Cherries (the unusual duo-Cherry, for instance) and Apples (like Golden Delicious and Elstar).
For a formal style you should first decide on the shape. A 'U'-shape is relatively easy, while a fan or an espalier (often depicted in magazines and garden books) can be very beautiful. The following tips, together with a little patience, can put your fruit trees into good shape.
- Plant a young tree or shrub at about 30 cm from a wall or fence and support it with a stake
- Prune the tree back in winter and train the leader up as the 'trunk'. Leave two lateral shoots to grow out sideways. These will be the lowest horizontal branches. Secure them at a 45° angle from the trunk.
- The following autumn, bend the laterals further out and tie them horizontally.
- Prune the 'trunk' back to about 40 cm above the side branches, and then repeat the entire process to create successive new laterals.