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.
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.