What is an “espalier” you may be asking yourself. The term espalier has changed over the years. Originally it defined a trellis, or a frame, to which a tree was to be tied. It presently refers to the process of training your tree or plant. The purpose of an espalier is to be able to grow a tree in limited space. The process originated with fruit trees in order to provide fruit in small gardens and courtyards. This art is now primarily used for decoration or privacy.
It is possible to purchase plants that have been espaliered; however, they are typically much more expensive than free standing plants. For the price of purchasing one espaliered plant, you could espalier two to three free standing plants on your own. Besides, performing the espalier yourself is part of the fun, although it does take some work getting it set up as well as annual maintenance.
Most espaliered plants are grown against walls where limited space is available. An example of a perfect spot would be on the side of a garage that has a walkway along the side. You may wish to hide the side of the garage, while preserving the space within the walkway. An espaliered plant will allow you to do this, as it will grow verticle, and will spread laterally along the structure, without encroaching on the path. Another perfect place for an espaliered tree is between neighbor’s homes. This will provide privacy while taking up very little space as the tree begins to grow.