Espalier Apples and Pears & Garden Exposures With A New House

Question:

I have an area along the side of the house where I would like to remove the junipers. I'm considering replacing them with espalier apples and pear trees, but I am unsure how many I should place in that area. Also, I'm looking for information on the most appropriate varieties of apples and pears. In addition,  I would like any information on how to espalier.

Answer:

  • You can successfully espalier any variety of Apple or Pear, including Asian Pears.
  • I would select combinations with different ripening times, so you have fruit over an extended period. Espaliering is not as difficult as it might sound.
  • The key is the time it takes to develop the espalier's arms, branches, or laterals. This may take several growing seasons. Once the structure has been formed, you prune only for shape and fruit production. I would space the trees 8 feet apart, but if you stagger the height of the arms/branches/laterals, you can space the trees closer. You can purchase espaliered trees. Your favorite garden center is a resource, but I have seen them at Costco. 

Question:

We are looking to buy a home this summer, and I love to garden. Which way should the house be facing for the best gardening opportunities?

Answer:

  • You pose an interesting question, and I do not think there is a perfect answer.
  • You can build a case for any one of the exposures, but there are other factors that you need to consider.
    • First, you should decide on the particular type of gardening you are more than likely to be doing; perennials, shady, roses, vegetables, containers, citrus and fruit trees, or a combination of any of them.
  •  A more critical factor to consider is the visible site lines inside and out of the landscape or garden area. Ideally, gardeners would prefer a larger backyard than a front yard. Since most people enter and exit through the garage, front yard landscaping tends to be for neighbors, guests, and drive-by.
  • A larger backyard gives you many more opportunities to enjoy your gardening efforts.
  • The vistas from each room should be evaluated, and the view from the kitchen sink may be the most important as so much time is spent at this one spot. It seems like a waste of time and energy to develop a specialty area that can only be viewed when one goes outdoors and turns a corner. This is avoided by knowing where the sight lines are. Also, remember that there is more than one viewpoint, as everyone does not sit in the same seat.
  • If the home has never been landscaped and it has southwest exposure, be sure there is enough room to plant trees off the fence line; otherwise, you end up sharing the tree(s) with a neighbor(s) who may not appreciate the tree in their yard as much as you do. Although exposure is essential,
  • I believe the types of gardening and site lines are the key.