The Q&A Archives: Orienting Espalier

Question: I have 2 large expanses of unadorned clapboard wall, one facing south, the other west. Would either of these walls be a good site for an espalier? Whatever I grow will have to be deer-proof in my zone 4 home. Will enough rain reach the vine/shrub/tree under the eaves?

Answer: Sounds like a difficult situation for anything you plant, unless you plan to provide water on a regular basis during the growing season. Both south and west exposures are perfect for espalier's, especially if you're growing fruit. The retained and reflected heat can help ripen tree fruits and vine fruits. Otherwise, try heat-loving plants such as pyracantha, forsythia, ivy or honeysuckle.

Prepare the soil prior to planting by amending it with organic matter to help it drain fast yet retain enough moisture to encourage good root growth. Water weekly during the spring and summer months and occasionally during the winter and fall. Once your plants have become established they'll require less frequent watering.

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