Espalier is a term used to describe how a plant is trained to grow against a flat surface—such as fence or wall—in a garden area. Espaliered plants can add great interest to any garden landscape, due to the beauty of their varied growing designs. Pear trees usually grow large very rapidly and require deal of maintenance to properly espalier; however, pear trees grafted to a dwarf or semi-dwarf rootstock are a better choice, because they are smaller, simpler to train, and easier to maintain than full-size pear trees.
Purchase a pear tree, grafted onto dwarf or semi-dwarf pear rootstock, from a local nursery or garden center. If needed, ask the nursery or garden professional which pear tree varieties are best suited to espalier.
Select the planting site. A south-facing wall or fence in the landscape, that provides well-drained soil and plenty of daily sunlight, is one of the best places to grow an espalier pear tree.
Create a design. Espaliers can be composed of simple designs or formal, ornate patterns. Some need little or no supporting framework, while others require a frame or trellis for support (See Reference 1, Supporting Espaliers). Create a espalier pattern—like free-formed informal, u-shaped, palmette, or basket weave design—appropriate to your level of gardening experience for the best chances of growing success.
Construct needed support. Build a trellis or frame suitable for creating the espalier pear tree design out of pressure-treated or rot resistant lumber, if such support is required for your design. Masonry bolts can anchor a trellis or frame to a brick wall, or used by themselves with heavy gauge wire to anchor less complex espalier designs.
Dig a hole in the selected location twice the size of the pear tree root ball. Take the pear tree out of its container and place in the hole. Fill with dirt only up to the original planting depth of the pear tree.
Carefully bend the branches into the espalier design and anchor with wire or plant stem ties. Tree branches are usually more supple and easier to bend in the summer.
Prune pear tree branches in the early spring to promote new growth. Do not over prune immature trees, particularly when flower buds are forming.