Shaping Trees to Fit Your Garden

Pruning techniques enable you to shape your tree to a certain style. Simply cut off the unwanted branches while the tree is growing, and tie the trees into your desired shape. There are 6 main tree shapes, each having its benefits and disadvantages for a certain situation. Some of the more advanced shapes, though, need advanced pruning techniques. Fortunately, there are many books available to guide you on this.

You should tie and prune your tree during the fall since no fruits are produced at that time, making it easier for you to shape your tree. Here are some of the different types of shapes and a bit of information on each to help you choose which shape fits your garden.

Standard Trees

These are the most common varieties, so common that these would be what come into your mind when you think of any tree. Unless you have a strangely deformed tree, you don’t need to do any specific shaping. Just leave it that way and prune it as you normally would.

Bush Tree

You can make a bush tree out of a standard tree without pruning. The branches are of the same shape, except that the stem or trunk is obviously larger. If you want to grow trees but are not willing to block the view, this is the shape for you.


This is not a very common type of tree, having one stem and no branches. It is planted at an angle so that it arches up over the ground. All branches are removed while the tree is growing. These are advantageous because they take up very small amount of space. However, having no branches makes it produce fewer fruits per tree.

Espalier Trees

These trees have one vertical stem in the center. On each side are several horizontal branches. Espalier trees can grow in long rows that produce large numbers of fruit. This is best if you have an orchard, since you can fit as many trees as possible into your area with this shape.

Fan Trees

These are almost like the Espalier trees, but the branches are not horizontal. The branches grow like that of a standard tree, but they are two-dimensional instead of the standard three-dimensional configuration. Fan trees are good if you want to save space or if you have trees that do better with sloped branches.

Step-Over Espalier

This is another type of espalier, except that only one horizontal branch comes very close to the ground. They can serve as fence for your garden, and produce lots of fruits at the same time.

Having considered the pros and cons of each shape and having picked the one that you think best fits your garden, then go for it! But first, ask you local nursery employees for pieces of advice regarding reading materials to guide you. Getting your tree into your desired shape and achieving your goals is quite easy. But you’ll just need some guidance at the start.


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