I have a cherry tree and an apple tree in my back yard. Both were planted one year ago, so this is the first time that I am training limbs outward to add a level of branches to the espalier. For those of you who don’t know, espalier is the fancy French word for a tree that has been grown flat against a surface. There are quite a number of possible shapes, mine are both simple horizontal designs.

During Spring, I clipped back the main stems just above where I was hoping to get branches. When you do this, the three leaves under where you cut will sprout branches. It was something of a leap of faith, but it worked! However, the new branches grew upward in no particular order (as you can see in the before images.)

I started with the cherry tree. Since there were four new branches, I trimmed one out. Then, I installed a new support cord and tied down the branches that will go out in both directions to be the base of the new level. At the moment they are still somewhat far from the guide, but I will train them closer to the cord over time.

It’s also important to clip out any branches that are growing straight up, interfering with the horizontal branches. I usually leave two or three leaves for a bushy effect. Check out the following diagram.

If you do this every year, you should get a chance to add another row to your espalier each time!