How to Clip My Shrubs Into Shapes


Topiary is the art of shaping plants into living sculpture for use in decorating the home or landscape. The art dates back to Roman times, when wealthy citizens shaped the greenery around their villas into fanciful animals and obelisks. Today, topiary may consist of vine-covered forms or shrubs. Densely compact shrubs such as boxwood, yew or holly are common varieties of shrubs that adapt well to topiary sculpture.

Step 1

Purchase a wire topiary frame. Frames made specifically for topiary are available in many garden stores. Select a frame that has been treated to retard rust. Frames made specifically for topiary will come apart, so that you can assemble it around your shrub without damaging the shrub.

Step 2

Assemble the wire topiary frame around your shrub.

Step 3

Pull the branches of the boxwood through the wires so that the frame is buried inside the structure of the shrub.

Step 4

Begin to trim the branches back so that they are even with the wire frame. Do not clip more than three inches off of each branch per trimming session to minimize stress to the shrub. For branches that require more than three inches removed, work in stages throughout scheduled pruning sessions until the branch is the proper length.

Step 5

Schedule pruning sessions for your shrub every three months. Refrain from pruning between sessions.

Things You'll Need

  • Boxwood shrub
  • Wire topiary frame
  • Hedge clippers


  • Branches - The Art of Vegetation: How To Make Animal Topiaries
  • Boxwood Garden: A Brief History of Boxwood
  • Gardening Know How: How to Make Your Own Topiary

Who Can Help

  • Topiary Frames
  • Miriam Nurseries: Topiaries require work, but are worth the effort
  • Thrifty Fun: Plant Art: Topiary Design
Keywords: Topiary art, shaping hedges, landscaping decor

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."