How to Create a Topiary


Topiary, a method of training vines and pruning woody perennials and shrubs into unnatural shapes, began in Europe as a way to enhance the interest and appearance of large estates and manicured gardens, according to Timeless Topiary. The spread of topiary into mainstream gardening shows in various types of garden designs, from formal, colonial gardens to whimsical, cottage gardens. Certain varieties of plants exhibit characteristics suitable for use in topiary plants. Enhance the appearance of your home, porch or patio with a simple, potted topiary.

Step 1

Select a robust vine for your topiary design. Vines that easily transform into topiaries include English and Boston ivy plants. Choose a young plant with several vines emerging from the main stem.

Step 2

Purchase a topiary frame, or make your own out of sturdy, pliable wire. Most topiary frames have a long base that supports the vertical growth of your plant and a shape at the top that the tendrils wrap around.

Step 3

Plant your ivy in a pot with drainage holes in the bottom. Look for a sturdy pot that will hold the top-heavy topiary firmly in place. Ceramic or clay pots make suitable pots for topiary plants. Mix together equal parts of potting soil and sand. Fill the bottom of your pot with this mixture. Transplant your young plant into the pot. Fill in the outside edges with your potting soil. Allow about 1/2 inch of space between the rim of your pot and the surface of your potting soil. Poke the wire bottom of your topiary frame into the center of the soil.

Step 4

Wrap the long ivy tendrils around the vertical base of the frame. Hold the tendrils in place with wire twist ties, snipping off any excess wire with wire cutters. Twist longer tendrils along the wires that form the shape at the top of your topiary. Separate the vines so they travel in opposite directions along your upper frame. Continue to attach new growth to the wires as the vine matures until it encases the entire frame, forming a dense, green object.

Things You'll Need

  • Ivy
  • Topiary frame
  • Pot
  • Potting soil
  • Sand
  • Green twist ties
  • Wire cutters


  • University of Illinois: Topiary
  • Better Homes and Gardens: Creating a Simple Rosemary Topiary
  • "Pruning, Training and Shaping Trees the Japanese Way;" Jake Hobson; 2007
  • Timeless Topiary: FAQ

Who Can Help

  • Purdue University: Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: make a topiary, topiary design, create topiaries

About this Author

Laura Dee is a writer, artist, and the co-owner of Wallace & Wallace Copywriting,an online business which specializes in providing marketing materials and copy to various companies. She has written for Demand Studios since 2008 and is currently working on a series of childrens' picture books.