How to Do Boxwood Topiaries

Overview

Topiary is an extreme form of pruning used to form geometric or animal shapes from a tree or shrub. The art form dates back to the ancient Egyptians and Romans. One plant that is frequently used for topiary is the English Boxwood, due to its rounded, bushy growth, English Boxwood can be shaped by freehand pruning, or by assembling a topiary form around it and then trimming the shrub using the form as a guide.

Freehand Topiary

Step 1

Select the shape for your topiary. Geometric shapes such as cones or balls are best for freehand topiary shaping, while complex shapes should be trimmed using a wire frame as a guide.

Step 2

Choose a Boxwood hedge that is already close to the shape you plan to cut. For example, if you are shaping a cone, select a Boxwood with upright growth that tapers near the top.

Step 3

Clip off a length of wire and bend it into a circle. Use this circle as a guide when cutting your topiary into a ball.

Step 4

Cut the rough shape of your topiary using long-handled shears. These shears will help you shape the plant without straining your wrists.

Step 5

Plan to gradually shape your topiary into the proper form with trimming sessions every three months. Never clip more than 3 inches of growth from any Boxwood that you are working on. As you work on the Boxwood, it will become bushier.

Topiary Form

Step 1

Select a topiary form that will comfortably fit the shape of your Boxwood. Tall, slender bushes should have tall, slender forms, such as an upright rabbit. A short hedge row will match a long topiary form such as a person laying on his or her back.

Step 2

Take the topiary form apart at its center seam, then sandwich the two halves of the topiary form around the bush. If the topiary form will insert into the ground, push its rods into the soil around the bush. Reach into the wire ribs of the topiary form and pull out the branches of the bush.

Step 3

Cut the rough shape of your topiary using long-handled shears. Do not remove more than 3 inches of growth from the Boxwood.

Step 4

Plan to gradually shape your topiary into the proper form with trimming sessions every three months. Never clip more than 3 inches of growth from any Boxwood that you are working on. As you work on the Boxwood, it will become bushier.

Things You'll Need

  • Long-handled shears
  • Galvanized wire
  • Wire cutter
  • English boxwood
  • Topiary form

References

  • Gardening Know How: How to Make Your Own Topiary
  • Topiary Arts: Cutting and Shaping
  • United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service: How to Prune Trees

Who Can Help

  • Garden Artisans: Topiary Frames
Keywords: shaping a topiary, trimming hedges, making yard art

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."