The Ashridge Nurseries Blog

Which Fruit Tree Size Should I Start With?

We get this question all the time and it's a very sensible one: which of the 3 or 4 starting sizes of fruit tree should I choose?

A well loved fruit tree will be in its prime for about 50 years and a new one takes at least a couple of years to establish and bear fruit, so choosing the right one matters!

I'm going to jump to the end here.
For most people's gardens, where space is precious, the best choice of free-standing fruit tree (i.e. not trained on wires) is a Bush.

A bush fruit tree has simply been pruned when it was young to give it with a very short main trunk, about 1 metre tall. As a result, the canopy of branches that produce the fruit is smaller and lower than a full sized fruit tree.

Compared to a "normal", large fruit tree, which are known as standards, a bush shaped fruit tree:

  • Needs less room & can be planted closer together.
  • Will use up smaller amounts of soil nutrients & cast less shade around it.
  • Can be pruned, harvested and sprayed easily with a sturdy little step-ladder.
  • Can be netted easily to protect against birds (often necessary for cherries).

Of course, there is nothing wrong with a big half-standard tree if you have the room for it. It will need a big ladder made safe for garden use when your trees are mature.

So, if you want the biggest possible tree, get a Half-Standard.
If you want a proper fruit tree but don't have the room for a Standard, get a Bush.

What about all the Wire Trained Shapes?

There are several ways to train a fruit tree on wires in a restricted space - espaliers, fans, cordons, step-overs and arches being the main ones.

There is only one starting size you need for all of these: the Maiden.
A maiden is the youngest & cheapest fruit tree you can buy.
After planting, you prune it yourself down to the correct size for your project.

Most of our suitable apple and pear varieties are available as ready made cordons, which effectively a tree with a single, thin branch grown on wires or other supports at a 45 degree angle.
You can train a maiden into a cordon yourself, but buying a cordon will give you a 1 year head start.

In order of final size when mature, the four sizes we sell:

Half Standards
All the various wire trained shapes - use a Maiden.
Smallest: Apples and pears that are spur bearing, as opposed to tip bearing, can be grown on wires as restricted Cordons.

Whichever size is right for your garden or orchard, all the fruit trees we grow are Guaranteed for 1 Year & have O% VAT.

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