The espalier method of growing fruit trees allows you to create living green fences and to grow more fruit in a small space. We have built a couple of free-standing espaliers at Big Foot as one of our living laboratory experiments with different approaches to growing fruits and nuts. A free-standing espalier consists of two or more strong, tall, posts in a line, with two or more horizontal wires strung between each set of posts. The trees’ branches are trained along the horizontal wires over the first few years of the trees’ growth.
Using the method described here it took us about two person days to complete a 36 foot wide and 7 foot high espalier with 4 posts and 4 wires between posts.
This is a general guide for how to build a free-standing espalier.
Get good, rot-resistant posts. We used black-locust wood posts for our espalier. Black locust is extremely rot-resistant. We bought some 4×4 inch posts, and some natural branch posts, about 6 inch diameter from a lumber yard out in Western Mass. Photo shows our rental truck and the woodpiles! But you can also use cedar, redwood, or oak – just try not to get treated wood, it is full of poisons 😦
Hook a turn-buckle on one of the screw-eyes and secure the wires between the screw-eyes and turn-buckles. A separate post shows how we secured the wires.
That’s it! now you have your espalier all set for training your vines or fruit trees!