Join the RHS today and support our charity
Free personalised gardening advice
RHS members get reduced ticket prices
RHS members get free access to RHS Gardens
Reduced prices on RHS Garden courses and workshops
020 3176 5800
Mon – Fri | 9am – 5pm
Make a donation
I have forgotten my password
Keep me signed in
Register for free to receive our newsletters, add comments to blogs/articles and to save content.
See what events are on near you and browse your bookmarked pages.
Don’t miss out - book in advance and save
As gardens get smaller, planting apples trained as stepovers is one of the best and most attractive space-saving ways to grow fruit. As the name suggests, the stepover is a low-growing, horizontally-trained tree that can literally be 'stepped over'. Stepovers can be planted along an edge of a path or a bed, and make an excellent divider on an allotment or fruit garden.
Suitable for Growing spur fruiting apples and where space is limitedTiming Prepare support and plant in winter; start training in springDifficulty Moderate
The stepover apple (horizontal cordon) is a modified training method of the oblique cordon. It is best suited for spur-fruiting apple trees.
It is necessary to start training on very young trees. Choose a maiden whip that is supple and can be bent over. A maiden whip is a one-year-old tree with either no side branches or only sparsely branched. The main stem must not have been pruned to encourage branching.
Make sure that the selected cultivar is grafted onto a M27 rootstock. Although M9 and M26 rootstocks are suitable for conventional cordon training, they would be too vigorous for stepover training.
When selecting a cultivar, bear in mind that most apples are not self-pollinating and you may need to plant two different cultivars unless a suitable pollination tree is growing near by.
Train a stepover in the following way;
Stepover apples suffer from the same pest and disease problems as more conventionally grown trees. These include codling moth, apple canker, apple scab, brown rot and powdery mildew.
ApplesApples and pears: growing and training as cordonsApples and pears: pruning new treesApples and pears: summer pruning Apples and pears: winter pruningApples: choosing cultivarsApples: identifying fruit budsAGM fruitPlums: growing and training as cordonsRHS Grow Your Own
the RHS today and get 12 months for the price of 9
In this fully revised edition, you’ll find updated advice by the RHS experts on what, when and how to prune.
RHS members can get exclusive individual advice from the RHS Gardening Advice team.
Register for the site or sign in to share your experiences on this topic and seek advice from our community of gardeners.
We're a UK charity established to share the best in gardening. We want to enrich everyone's life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.
Join the RHS today and get 12 months for the price of 9