Q. I have a very small back yard and a 20' x 18" planter against the back wall of our property that is now empty. We were thinking of espalier fruit trees in the space. My wife wants a Myers lemon and I like a peach or nectarine, pear, or even an apple.
A. You can fit about three fruit trees on a trellis 20 feet long. They don’t have to be dwarf except for the apple. The easiest trees to trellis are those which produce fruit on spurs; most apples, pear, apricot, plum and pluot. Citrus will work if the location is in a warm microclimate during the winter and protected from the wind.
|Apple trellis to close to a century fence but not on the fence|
Nectarine can be difficult because it frequently requires a lot of spraying for Western flower thrips to prevent the scarring this insect causes to the fruit.
Peach can be more difficult because it does not produce fruit in spurs. Purchase these trees at any local nursery or garden center but reference my list for the best varieties. You will find it on my blog or email me and I will send you a copy.
Buy a small tree if you are going to trellis. The wires for trellising should not be against the wall but away from it at least a few inches so you can prune behind it.
Trellis wires start at a height of about 18 inches from the ground and vertically spaced 18 inches apart. Everything growing towards the wall is pruned off.
In the first year cut the top of the tree about 2 inches above the bottom wire. The growth closest to the cut is directed to the next wire above it. Two side branches are tied tightly to the bottom wire.
Next year repeat this process at the second wire, then the third wire and finally the last wire. Once the tree occupies the entire trellis any branches growing above the top wire are removed. Branches growing away from the wall are cut back to three or 4 inches.