Festooning fruit trees consists of training young branches to grow into gaps to improve the shape of the tree by creating hoops of branches. This can be done by bending the branches and securing them to the trunk with string. Another approach to festooning is to tie plastic buckets to the branch and fill with water until they bend into the shape that is needed. The age and thickness of the branch will determine which approach is used.
Festooning young trees
Plant the fruit tree in the spring.
Begin to pull down the branches to form a hoop at the end of the first summer for the fruit tree. Tie soft string to the ends of the branches and secure the branch to the trunk.
Prune any branches that are growing on top of the hoop formed by the branches during the second summer of the fruit tree. At the end of the summer bend more branches into hoops and secure them to the trunk. Continue this process every year until the desired shape is achieved.
Festooning mature trees
Evaluate the shape of the fruit tree looking for opening in the growth and branches that are starting to cross, when you have a mature tree that you want to festoon. Fruit trees need to develop an open appearance in between the branches to aid in pesticide application and harvesting.
Tie coloured ribbon onto the branches that need to be moved to a different location on the tree. Step back and re-evaluate the design.
Tie soft string to buckets and tie the other end of the string to the thick part of each branch. Fill with water until the each branch begins to bend into a hoop shape. Continue this process until all thick branches are bent. For the new growth on the fruit tree simply bend and secure to trunk.
Prune branches that have formed along the top of the bent branches. Continue to add water throughout the season until the thicker branches bend enough to secure to the trunk without cracking or breaking.
When forming a festoon on an older tree, gradually bend the branch to prevent cracking or breaking of the wood.