If you think your garden is too small for a fruit tree, you may be wrong. Fruit trees are some of the most amenable plants; they can be trained along walls and fences, taking up very little space, and look beautiful and even fruit better when grown in this way.
When to start: Winter.
At their best: Spring and autumn.
Time to complete: 5 hours.
You will need: Several bare-root cordon apple or pear trees, bamboo canes, well-rotted organic matter – such as manure, spade, wire, vine eyes, and twine, mulch.
Measure planting distances
Fix horizontal wires to the fence or wall at 24 in (60 cm) intervals. Cordons can be planted as close together as 12 in (30 cm), depending on the effect you wish to create. Decide on your spacing, and measure along the wall or fence, marking each planting spot with a cane. Dig holes large enough to accommodate the root balls easily.
Plant and trim roots
Plant the cordon at an angle of about 45° degrees. Examine the roots of each plant and cut off any that are large or woody, to encourage new feeding roots, and thin those above the soil. Make sure the graft union (scar on the stem) is above the surface.
Attach trees to canes
Firm in the soil around the roots with your foot. Push the canes into the soil at the same angle as the trees. Tie the cordons to the canes, and tie the canes to the horizontal wires. Make sure all of your plants are securely fastened and aligned.
Water the trees well after planting and apply a mulch of chipped bark, keeping it clear of the stems, to retain moisture and suppress weeds. Water the trees regularly during their first year. Apply a tree and shrub granular fertilizer around the trees every spring, and replenish the mulch afterward.
Tips: Routine pruning
Remove the flowers the first year after planting to encourage strong roots. Prune cordons each year in late summer. Shorten all woody sideshoots to within a few leaves of the stem to help promote fruiting spurs.