Choose an open, sheltered position, avoiding frost-prone sites, if possible. Soils should be well-drained, moisture-retentive and not prone to waterlogging.
The best time for planting cordons is in winter. Use one-, two- or three-year-old cordons. When buying cordons, you will have a choice of rootstocks. Use M27 rootstock (extremely dwarfing) or M9 rootstock (very dwarfing) for apples where the soil is fertile; otherwise, use M26 rootstock (dwarfing). Pears are best grafted on Quince C or, for very poor soils, Quince A.
Plant trees at an angle of 45 degrees. Cordons will need support so you will need to plant against a wall, fence or on three horizontal wires, 60cm (2ft) apart, stretched between posts, 2m (6ft) apart.
If planting more than one cordon, space at 60-90cm (2-3ft) apart. Cordons can be allowed to reach a height of about 1.5-2m (5-6½ft) so take that into consideration when planting.
After planting, cut back all laterals longer than 10cm (4in) to three buds, leaving the leader and any short laterals.
Vertical and double cordons (‘U’-shaped) can also be grown in containers (at least 45cm (18in) wide) in John Innes No. 3 compost (a soil-based potting media that is easy to manage and heavy enough for the pot to be stable).