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How to Make an Animal Topiary Using Boxwood

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Creating a topiary is an ancient artform, dating back thousands of years, and involves pruning or training shrubs or trees into various shapes. A boxwood shrub is commonly used, because of its compact growth, only about 3 feet tall, and dense foliage, which creates a full, lush topiary. Using a wire form to create an animal topiary requires less work and faster results, and is ideal for trying this ancient art for the first time.

Plant a boxwood shrub in a location that receives partial shade or full sun in the morning only. Water consistently, once a week, to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. In warmer weather, watering more often maybe necessary to avoid the soil drying out.

Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch around the base of the shrub. Mulching a boxwood protects its shallow roots, keeping weeds under control, and retaining moisture in the soil. Use a shredded bark or chopped leaves.

Select a wire animal form for the topiary shape. Use a shape that is not over 3 feet tall because the boxwood will grow only that tall. Place the wire form into the ground so it is over the boxwood shrub or directly behind the plant, if necessary. Push down at least 6 to 8 inches deep to secure it well.

Carefully pull some of the boxwood branches through the wire form. Secure with floral wire, if needed, to hold them until they grow longer and will stay around the form without tying. Let the shrub grow for several months before pruning, to allow enough growth to cover the frame.

Wrap the branches around the form as they continue to grow, re-tying and re-wrapping as needed to begin covering the entire form with the shrub. Once the form is almost completely covered, prune the bush so it outlines the animal-shaped form. Cut off any foliage that sticks out at an angle and trim up the bottom of the shrub, if needed, to make the outline of the animal form more distinctive.


The topiary can be grown in a container and set on a patio or porch. Fill in the animal form with sphagnum moss to give a fuller appearance until the plant grows around it.


Do not prune the boxwood shrub more than several inches at one time or it can stunt its growth.

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