Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

Tree height restrictions and how to deal with them

How do you deal with height restrictions on trees?

How do you deal with height restrictions on trees? Photo courtesy of Darkroom Daze/

Many people with new-built houses or allotments are keen to grow fruit trees along their border line or separating fence or wall. But often they run into a problem: due to legal restrictions or rules, the trees are not allowed to grow any taller then 6 feet.

In this case, it is best to follow a modified planting procedure:

1) in the case of apples use the rootstock M26,
2) in the case of cherries use the rootstock Gisela 5,
3) In the case of plums, the rootstock Pixie is not always suitable,
4) In the case of pears, use a root control bag.

When you are ordering trees, specify any height restrictions you may have in the special requirements section of the web form, and we will give you advice.

In any case, an alternative method is also available. Use an 16 to 18-inch clay pot or plastic pot with good drainage holes. Sink the entire pot into the soil with the rim of the pot protruding above soil level by 1 inch, and plant the tree in the pot. This will prevent the tree-roots escaping over the top of the pot. To stop the drainage holes getting blocked by roots in future years, it is essential to cover the drainage holes with broken bits of terracotta pots or the equivalent. Blocked drainage holes kills trees!

This method will effectively reduce the root run. This in turn will limit the tree height to around 6 feet. However, if this method of growth control is chosen, it is most important that the trees are routinely watered once or twice a week depending on weather conditions.

Another method is to use a root control bag. These are suitable for all types of fruit trees. These bags reduce root circling and result in an altogether more fibrous root system. Excellent root bag products are obtainable from:

GardenSelect Ltd
Tel. 01908 631594

4 responses to “Tree height restrictions and how to deal with them

  1. Gary Knowles September 11, 2014 at 5:02 am

    Thank you for the great advice. Stumbled across the site when looking for ways to control the size of a couple of apple trees.
    Can you help me with another question? If a root bag is used will fruit production be limited?

    • Dan August 5, 2015 at 3:05 pm

      Provided you continue to water the trees on a weekly basis, you will achieve regular crops but a smaller tree; easier to pick and able to net the tree to avoid bird damage.

  2. Rodney Braggs October 23, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    I am thinking of planting 2pear trees (step over) would doyennedu comice be suitable + another and2apple trees would worcester permain and suntan be OK? I live in East Yorkshire

  3. BillC November 7, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    If the height of a tree is restricted to 6 feet, what would it’s spread diameter be?

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