Espalier Trees: 6 Styles

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If you want to add some espalier trees to your yard but aren’t quite sure what design type, this basic info might help. There are many designs to choose from, so let your imagination and personal preference be your guide.

espalier pear tree on brick wall

1. Cordon Espalier

The most traditional type of design for espalier trees is relatively easy to accomplish. Cordons can be vertical, horizontal, or even diagonal, and once trained they can grow either free standing or against a surface.

The basic idea is to repeat a series of relatively evenly spaced branches. This type is great for growing apples or pears.

One thing to consider—a vertical cordon can be trickier to control than a horizontal or diagonal approach, since more of the tree's energy will go into increasing its height. For fruiting trees, you might be better off slowing that growth by branching out at some angle to the side.

historic building with cordon espalier tree

flowering espalier tree on a low lying wall

vertical cordon espalier tree

diagonal cordon espalier apple tree

2. Candelabra Espalier

A more challenging design that takes longer to develop and more to maintain, candelabra style can be layered in steps for a mathematical, controlled feeling.

candelabra shaped espalier tree

3. U-Shaped and Palmette Verrier Espalier

A simple u-shape espalier can be a great style for little maintenance. For a more advanced variation, you can try the palmette verrier style, a formal design that can yield beautiful results.

For that approach, you stack u-shapes one on top of the other, as many layers as you desire. This style usually takes at least three years to mature enough for full definition.

Palmette Verrier espallier trees

espalier pear tree with repeating u-shaped design

5. Oblique Palmette Espalier

Another version of the palmette styling is the oblique. This design can be less formal and its angled shoots form from the trunk, creating a fan-like in appearance.

espalier flowering tree on a brick wall

fan shaped espalier tree growing on a stone wall

6. Belgian Fence Espalier

This design is complicated and takes time to develop but has gorgeous results and makes garden dividers. The appearance is lattice-like so it does require multiple trees. The trees are meant to overlap so it takes some planning and at least a year to create.

espalier tree or vines growing on a lattice

belgian fence espalier trees in winter

6. Natural Espalier

Just because you're controlling a tree to grow along a flat surface doesn't mean you have to shape it in a rigorous pattern. If you're looking for a more adventurous or organic style, let your imagine run as wild as the plants you love!

european building with espaliered tree in front

flowering espalier tree or bush on a white wall