Asked on Jan 03, 2014

Can a apple tree be kept short and turned into a shrub successfully?

by RayRay
I have a small yard and limited room for trees. I was wondering about turning some fruit trees into shrubs along my fence. It doesn't have to be apple I would be happy with any fruit tree. I've had very little success with dwarf trees.
  6 answers
  • MaryAnne Curd MaryAnne Curd on Jan 03, 2014
    While my husband and I were stationed in England we noticed an apple orchard that had all their trees trimmed back to increase productivity.

  • Nikkimaloy Nikkimaloy on Jan 03, 2014
    if the tree is a dwarf tree it can be kept small. if it is a semi dwarf you can trim it to about 10 feet, if it is a standard tree, step aside and let it grow (30+ ft)

  • Buying from a reputable nursery would be the desired place to buy a dwarf fruit tree. An old fashioned fruit tree will take years (8 or more) to bear fruit and to keep it small and healthy there is a lot of pruning and care. It is not a matter of just cutting a branch off or a shoot because fruit trees have special needs and special pruning so they grow and bear fruit. do not buy trees from big box stores. There are many plants you can buy there but fruit trees is not one of them. You need to spend the extra money at your local nursery/garden center and talk to a professional nursery person who knows their stuff. Many times you may need a pollinator too and I have seen and found myself that fruit trees like to be around their "own kind". So check into that in the spring. Doing espalier fruit trees or dwarfing a standard tree is not easy and will be time consuming. Good luck!

  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jan 04, 2014
    I think a better suggestion than attempting to turn a tree into a shrub is to train it as an espalier. The Chicago Botanic Garden has instructions here:

  • Jen Grunklee Jen Grunklee on Jan 04, 2014
    I'm curious to know also

  • We sell a lot of trained Espalier Apple Trees to people who do not have a lot of space in their landscape. You can keep it as small as you like or just plant it against a wall or fence on your property line. Or you can just keep it pruned back as small as you want & make it look like a mini-tree. It will still produce fruit.