How to Make Topiary Forms


Topiary is an ancient landscaping art of pruning or training plants or shrubs into decorative forms and shapes, ranging from simple circular or square hedges to more complicated geometric designs and 3-D figures. Used initially for the higher classes, this complicated art requires years of patience and a steady hand to prune a hedge into the desired shape. A simple way to achieve this is to make wire forms in your desired shape and size and give it a 3-D appearance. Stuff the form with moss and allow a creeper such as English ivy to spread and grow over the wires.

Cylinder Wire Form

Step 1

Measure and double the width of your selected container to determine your circle's circumference. Also measure the container's height and double the figure. Add both figures and add an additional 12 inches. Note this final measurement on paper and cut a length of 16-gauge wire to it.

Step 2

Place a round container with the same circumference as your circle's circumference in front of you. Bend the wire around it so it forms a circle.

Step 3

Bend overlapping ends of wire below the formed circle, making sure they are parallel to each another. Use craft wire just below the circle's base to secure it. Twist the parallel wires together to form a "trunk" that equals the length of the container's height doubled (your second measurement).

Step 4

Bend excess length of both parallel wires at right angles to the trunk. Form an S-shape with each length and curve in opposite directions.

Step 5

Wrap another length of 16-gauge wire to the trunk from the top to the base to stiffen it. Secure the end by bending it around the circular wire at the top. Position the frame in the center of your selected container and stuff with moss.

Globe Wire Form

Step 1

Form two circles as described in Section 1. Do not twist the trunk wires down when bending them. Position one circle frame in the other so they cross in opposite directions. Secure the overlapping point together with craft wire.

Step 2

Grasp the trunk wires below both the circles firmly and join them with craft wire. Wind the craft wire in an X shape over and around the circle's bases and then loop it around the four trunk wires several times. Twist the wire ends to form another trunk, and wrap it with craft wire.

Step 3

Bend each of the four wires at the bottom perpendicularly to the "trunk" formed in the above step. Curve them to form two S shapes in opposite directions. Position the frame in the center of your container and stuff it with moss.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Round planter
  • Notepad
  • Pencil
  • 16-gauge galvanized wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Green craft wire
  • Sphagnum moss


  • University of Illinois Extension: Topiary
  • Cornell University: Living Sculpture
  • University of Illinois Extension: Container Topiary Video

Who Can Help

  • Utah State University Extension: Coat Hanger Topiary
Keywords: topiary forms, wire topiary forms, topiary shapes

About this Author

Tanya Khan is a freelance author and consultant, having written hundreds of thousands of words for various online and print sources. She has an MBA in Marketing but her passion lies in giving her words wings.