espaliered fruit trees as fence - varieties and sources?

Claire4266March 19, 2013

I am a recent first time home owner and I am planning to substitute the ugly chainlink fence between us and our neighbor on the south with a living fence of espaliered trees. the plan for now is using the Belgian fence espalier, but could change my mind. I am a conplete beginner and need help from the experts. I live in Washington DC (zone 7a), hot and very humid in the summer. so far I am considering apples, pears or apricots and wondering which types thrive in my area (and are suitable to be espaliered). also, I am looking for advice on sources (even online) for plants that have already been started in shape (there is a brick and mortar store in my area with some plants but they are very large and expensive, and not in the Belgian shape). I found online this nursery with reasonable prices, but I am concerned because I checked reviews and several were good except for the most recent two, which were negative alleging orders taken but plants never shipped. if anybody has had recent good experience with this company, or any other nursery (in my area, or online), please let me know. I would like to order right now and get the plants this week end or next week at the latest. also, I would like to espalier an apricot against the wall of the house. again, I would welcome suggestions on varieties of apricots that thrive in DC. the wall is facing west and takes the brunt of afternoon sun. is it too hot for a plant to be espaliered against that wall? hope my questions don't sounds silly, I am a beginner and I am not completely sure what I am doing, but happy and eager to try and to benefit form advice and suggestions from seasoned gardeners. thanks in advance

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alan haigh

Apricot is a bit of a challenge as an espalier because it is difficult to keep living wood exactly where you want it in my experience, but if you don't mind a bit of a free form they can be beautiful. Tomcot is the hands down winner for your area according to nearby growers to you who participate in this forum.

Because of the high amount of summer pruning involved in maintaining a 2 dimensional fence you best use blight resistant varieties of apple or pear. I prefer pear above all else for espalier and fence. Pears and apples in espalier form are often available in the ornamental nursery trade for a premium price. Problem is you probably won't know the rootstock or be able to find fire blight resistant varieties.

I would simply start with bare root pears or apples and train them. It would slow you down a couple years but in the long run it is generally a better bet.

Adam's County Nursery carries several varieties of blight resistant pears- you can order ones that ripen at different times to spread your harvest. However, they don't offer dwarfing rootstock so you'd need to give each one quite a bit of room if you order trees from them. I am highly partial to Harrow Sweet but haven't tried most of the newer blight resistant varieties yet.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 6:56PM
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I planted a two dimensional apple tree fence and I espaliered two pears against a brick wall. My wife calls it my ten year experiment. It's been 5 years and I'm still too new at this to give proper advice, but I'll note my watchouts.
First the squirrels will get every apple, so it's more aesthetics that you are going for.
I'm sure someone in your area will point to good nursery in your area, but you should definitely purchase disease resistant apples. In Atlanta, it's fireblight and cedar apple rust.
buy trees that have the same growth habit. some apples are more aggressive, some are more 'spur' type, some are 'tip' bearing.
How tall do you want the fence? I used a semi dwarfing root stock, M111 because I wanted a screen as well as apples. But most people will recommend dwarfing root stock.
Buy 1 year old trees, 'whips'. they are cheaper there is much more selection and you'll be surprised how fast they grow. Plus it gives you some time to learn 'pruning'.
The pear trees respond to espalier better, followed by apples. I've learned 'pears are for heirs'. it take more time for them to fruit. The apples, you'll have apples in your 3rd season.
The 2 dimensional fence and espalier make it harder to protect from varmits. and if you are in the city you'll be limited on controls.
I have to mention that the folks on this forum are brilliant, and you can learn a lot by reading the various Q&A. but I've learned the most by jumping in.
I hope this helps. It's fun.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 10:10PM
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