How to Go About Shaping the Spiral Topiary


Topiary is the art of training and clipping plants to grow in specific shapes. Most methods used today don't necessarily rely on the artistic ability of the gardener. Frames and wire patterns are available for many types of topiary designs, the easiest being the spiral topiary. Whether you have existing evergreen plants in your landscape or are adding new plants, topiary art adds an elegance and formality in your yard.

Step 1

Choose a healthy evergreen plant to create your spiral topiary. Evaluate the size and general shape of the plant for the spiral topiary. Choose a taller and leaner plant for a spiral topiary.

Step 2

Insert the wire spiral frame over the entire plant, firmly pushing it into the soil of the plant. If your plant is too big for the frame, than remove larger clumps around the outsides of the plant and try again. If you are using a ribbon to create your own template, attach the ribbon to the top of the plant, and wrap around your bush in the spiral design you want to create.

Step 3

Use the pruning shears first to remove the larger clumps of the plant. Start at the top of the plant and move downward. The process of removing the larger clumps will reveal the wire spiral frame so you can easily use it as a template. If using the ribbon method, trim evenly, making sure that the ribbon is secured in place for your final design.

Step 4

Cut around the plant using the spiral wire or ribbon as a guide. The plant should now have a somewhat spiral design. While the spiral design may be minimal, you should have a firm grasp of how the final spiral topiary will look.

Step 5

Using the smaller long-handled pruners, finish your spiral topiary by cutting the smaller areas where the large pruning shears were ineffective. This is where your creativity comes in while you still have the wire frame in the plant as a general guide; however, the fine trimming is up to you.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid over-pruning or free-handing the design. Use the wire frame for a perfect spiral topiary.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp, long-handled shears
  • Pruning shears
  • Topiary shears
  • Wire spiral frame
  • Colored ribbon (optional)


  • Miram Nursery: Topiaries
  • Artificial Plants and Trees: How to Make a Spiral Topiary
  • Topiary Arts: Cutting & Shaping

Who Can Help

  • Topiary Fun: Spiral Topiary Guide
Keywords: shape topiaries, spiral topiary, outdoor topiary

About this Author

Nicoline Keavy has been writing for over 20 years. After Nicoline received her MBA at University of Washington, she has enjoyed a career of managing several online non profit organizations. Nicoline Keavy has been published in over 3000 publications over the last 20 years.