In our design for the Rosmead Garden we have included several espalier fruit trees to maximize production in our small space without losing much room or sunlight. We plan for one of these to be an avocado. Typically, avocado trees grow very large and cumbersome – 5 to 8 feet at maturity. This would take up most of the small kitchen garden space we have to work with. Instead, we are planting the tree against a wall shared with neighbors to provide privacy and a general frame for our espalier avocado.
Espalier tree branches are often supported by wires on a wall to help train branches into fancy patterns, but avocado branches naturally grow in a nice horizontal pattern. All we have to do is remove the branches not growing parallel to our wall. This is known as an informal espallier. Our wall is a little more than 7 feet wide, so the branches should have plenty of room.
Because the tree will be two-dimensional as it begins to mature, more sunlight will reach the inner branches, hopefully increasing fruit production. The shape of the tree will also make it easier to reach the fruits for picking.
There are plenty of great tutorials available to help you get started with espalier, like How to Espalier Apple Trees, but I have yet to find much on working with avocado. So far I have only found this brief interview with two accounts of wrestling with an avocado. (The volume is a bit low). It sounds like it will be slightly more challenging to espalier avocado, but if we get fruit at such a young age it will be well worth the effort.
Any experience with avocado or espalier in your own small space? Share with us in the comments below.