Use these 5 steps to provide an elegant structure for climbing plants
– January 24, 2009
What you'll need
Espalier is the art of training plants to grow against a wall in desired shapes. The process can take years, depending on how quickly the plant grows. Typically, you will need to spend an hour or so two or three times a year tirmming away wayward stems and shoots and encouraging the plant in the directions that please you. The steps that follow show how to provide a structure for a plant trained near a wall, using wire that is stretched taut and held away from the wall by a couple of inches.
Eyehooks sized to fit the shields
14-gauge or thicker galvanized wire
For a masonry wall, drill holes using a masonry bit sized for your masonry shields. On some walls, it is easier to drill through brick; on others, mortar. Work slowly and take breaks to avoid overheating the bit and the drill. On tough surfaces, use a hammer drill. Check that the holes are at least 1⁄4 inch deeper than the shield.
Use a vacuum (a screw or a piece of wire will also work) to remove most of the dust from the holes. Tap in the shields so they are recessed slightly below the wall surface. If the shields slip in easily and are loose in the hole, tap lightly using a screwdriver or narrow piece of wood to wedge the shield in place.
Push against the wall as you screw in the eyehooks, first by hand and then using a screwdriver for more leverage. This causes the shields to expand inside of the holes, making for a tight connection. If a shield starts to pull out, remove the eyehook and shield, drill the hole a bit deeper, and start again.
Stretch the wire from the end of one run to meet the next wire. Where they meet, use a turnbuckle to make a tight fit. Plan to use a turnbuckle for every three or four turns of the pattern. You may need to retighten the turnbuckles from time to time as the wire stretches slightly.
For an organic-looking arrangement like this, allow a plant to grow freely for most of a season. Then prune it to achieve a pleasing shape and position eyehooks or other attachments at critical points. For espalier created this way, you may choose to attach branches to separate eyehooks rather than running wire between eyehooks.