How to Build a Topiary


When most people think of topiary, they think of thick boxwoods cut into fanciful shapes like the kind shown at Disneyland. Maintaining a topiary shape that has been cut into a shrub requires continual upkeep trimming. An easier way to create and maintain topiary is to grow one in ivy over a frame. Topiaries made from ivy grow more quickly and require less maintenance. English ivy topiaries are also easier to quickly fix, should you make a mistake in its pruning and care.

Step 1

Place a pottery shard into the bottom of a terracotta container.

Step 2

Fill the container with potting soil.

Step 3

Insert a topiary wire frame into the bottom of the container.

Step 4

Soak peat moss for approximately 15 minutes until the moss is as damp as a wrung-out sponge.

Step 5

Stuff the wire frame full of peat moss. Wind the moss around the frame and secure it with twist ties.

Step 6

Shove aside the soil layers in the terracotta container and the peat moss in the wire frame with your fingers to create planting pockets. Place the root ball of your English ivy plants into the planting pockets and close the soil or peat moss around the plants.

Step 7

Continue to water the soil and peat moss as the potting substance dries. Wind the ivy tendrils around the wire frame as they grow to train the ivy into shape. Initially you will need to use twist ties to secure the vine in place. Over time, English ivy will extend roots into the peat moss along the vine as it grows. The vine will fill in as it grows until eventually you will no longer be able to see the wire frame.

Things You'll Need

  • Large terracotta container
  • Potting soil
  • Pottery shard
  • Topiary wire frame
  • Sphagnum peat moss
  • English ivy plants
  • Twist ties


  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: English Ivies to Know and Grow
  • University of California Master Gardeners of Napa County: Topiary Topics
  • University of California Master Gardeners of Fresno: Topiary

Who Can Help

  • Topiary Arts: Welcome
Keywords: building topary, topiary frames, ivy topiary

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."