Espaliered pear trees are trained from planting to grow with their branches flat against a wall in a horizontal position or fan shape. This pruning technique creates an attention-getting landscape design. The method also reduces the need for a large planting area. To maintain the shape of an espaliered pear tree, regular pruning is necessary to train some of the new growth and eliminate the other. The Royal Horticultural Society recommends trimming in August, before the tree goes dormant but after its growth has become less vigorous.
Cut all stems that have sprouted this season on the pear tree's horizontal branches back to 3 inches, leaving three leaves on each. Make this and other cuts at a 45-degree angle.
Prune the shoots off the horizontal branches that you've already trimmed in a previous season. Cut these older side branches back to 1 inch. There should be one leaf left on them.
Remove any new growth that appears on the horizontal branches after completing steps 1 and 2. Cut these new shoots in September.
Chop any twigs that sprouted from the tree's trunk this growing season. Cut them at a 45-degree angle to within about 1 inch of the branch collar, the bulging area that separates the tree's trunk from a branch. If you cut into the branch collar, the tree will be exposed to disease and insect infestations.
Thin fruiting canes on 8-year-old pear trees down to one or two fruit buds. Perform this step when the tree is dormant.
Remove all diseased and broken branches as they are discovered.