Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How To Install Espalier For Fruit Trees

Espalier is a technique of training a plant or tree to grow along a pattern of horizontal, vertical and or angled lines, pruning to keep the desired shape. Perfectly suited for urban spaces where the desired effect is to grow along a wall rather than opening into small spaces, espalier does not sacrifice fruit yields for design.

I've already touched on how to select fruit trees for Colorado and espalier, so let's get right to the nitty gritty on installing the hardware and the trees. This installation is for a horizontal pattern, perhaps the simplest of all espalier forms.

- tree must be at least 6" away from wall to allow for circulation around leaves and fruit. While I've chosen a lot of rigging, you may opt for wood or any other trellising that gets you where you're going
- when drilling into masonry, do not drill into grout lines. Holes should be made at least 1"-2" away from any joint line.
-always wear protective eye and respiratory gear when drilling into masonry as the dust is not something you want in your eyes or lungs
- follow nursery's instructions for planting tree, typically digging hole width,depth of the root ball
- trees should be 1-2 years old, fruit bearing in about 4-5 years

- galvanized or stainless steel unless otherwise noted
- 3/4" x 8" eye bolt (2 inches will be sunk into wall)- how many is determined by the length of your wall (one bolt per 6' horizontal line, figure at least two per horizontal line for beginning and end bolt if just installing one, 6' section)
- masonry anchors- internal diameter to fit eye bolt
- masonry drill bit- diameter to fit anchor
- masonry epoxy and caulk gun(optional- good for watertight seal)
- 1/4" turnbuckle TIP: open all turnbuckles now so that you don't forget, later. Turnbuckles allow you to adjust the tension on the weight bearing wire so that as the weight increases over time, the wire does not sag.
- 3/4" shackle bolt
- 1/8" wire rope (aircraft cable)
- 1/8" wire rope sleeve and rope clips (can be purchased as a set- 1 sleeve and two clips per set)
- white chalk to mark wall
- tape measure
- power drill
- compressed air- helps blow dust out of drilled holes
- wire clippers
- pliers or wrench to tighten rope clip bolts

- FROM LEFT SIDE OF WALL- measure up at least two feet from the ground and 4" from edge of wall. First mark will be 2' from ground, 4" from left edge.
- VERTICAL MARKS- 16"-20" apart
- HORIZONTAL MARKS- 5'-6' apart
- at each mark, drill hole, use compressed air to remove dust and particles for easier install. Use masonry epoxy for watertight seal.
- insert masonry anchor
- screw in eye bolt
- attach shackle bolt to eye bolt- open to receive turnbuckle
- attach turnbuckle to shackle bolt- close shackle bolt. Make certain turnbuckle is "open"- meaning that the max amount of space is opened up (see photo)
- attach wire sleeve to turnbuckle
- attach wire rope to turnbuckle- going over sleeve and secure with two rope clips- make certain to secure wire rope end. play out enough wire rope to reach the end of your horizontal line.
- run wire rope to opposite end, secure using same steps as above.
- tighten turbuckles to take up slack in wire rope
- train trees to wire using nursery ties, twine, etc

I'm using the extra space below the fruit trees to try my hand at strawberries, Fort Laramie variety which is ever bearing. Landscape fabric will help to keep moisture from the drip hose in the ground. All that I have left is to add mulch and we'll be set!

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