Last updated: November 18, 2021

What Does Cordon Mean?

To cordon is to prune a fruit tree, usually an apple or pear, so that it may grow as a single branch or stem. Cordoning is an essential process for vertical gardening and small space growing.

Cordoning of fruit trees has been performed for thousands of years and is a matter of carefully pruning all but one or a small group of branches and supporting them vertically with a trellis, fence, or other flat structure. A cordoned tree may grow on a freestanding trellis or against a wall in even a narrow urban space.


Maximum Yield Explains Cordon

Cordoning is suitable for apples, pears, cherries or any tree that produces side shoots or fruit spurs, as they are known. Cordoning is performed by carefully pruning off some of the side shoots and trimming others down to the point of two or three leaves.

The remaining side shoot is then tied and trained to grow as a leader on a suspended wire or most often a free standing trellis.

When a tree is cordoned down to one or sometimes three main branches, they receive far more light and can produce impressive yields.

Cordon trees were once popular for small French and European gardens, grown as “espalier” on trellises or against a garden wall. An espalier tree could be pruned and trained into multiple beautiful shapes and designs.

Today cordoning of trees is used for small space vertical gardening.

Even in the smallest of urban gardens, a fruit tree may be cordoned and grown against a back fence or on a trellis, taking up very little yard space.


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