Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Prune a Spiral Topiary

By Sarah Terry ; Updated September 21, 2017

Topiaries add an air of sophistication and style to a landscape. The spiral topiary is a classic design and creating one is not as difficult or complicated as it seems. You can use a simple pre-made wire frame to easily turn your shrub into a spiral shape. Maintaining the spiral topiary as the shrub grows can seem daunting at first, but with some practice and careful trimming, you can accomplish this task successfully.

Place the spiral-shaped wire frame on the bush if you’re just starting to create the spiral topiary. Using a pre-made spiral topiary frame is the easiest way to start a topiary and you can purchase frames at most garden stores and nurseries or online. Simply prune back the branches that are protruding out of the frame.

Prune your spiral topiary in mid-June, when the leaves are strong and leathery. You can also prune in late summer. Don’t trim your topiary in spring, because this will hurt the foliage.

Start at the top of your spiral topiary, cutting back the foliage as far as the main stem. Always work from the top down.

Trim the upper edge of the topmost spiral curve, angling your pruning shears and trimming stray foliage to shape the top of the curve. Then, prune the lower turn of the spiral. If your topiary has several “spirals,” work your way down in this fashion as you prune.

Step back at least 2 to 3 feet from the spiral topiary after you prune each curve. Look at the shape to make sure the curves are smooth and you’re achieving the desired shape.


Things You Will Need

  • Spiral topiary wire frame
  • Pruning shears
  • Hand shears


  • For most standard boxwood topiaries or those made of English yew, you can prune to shape once per year. Some shrubs like the California privet, however, require more frequent pruning and weekly hand-trimming to maintain their shape.
  • Water your topiary shrub once every one or two weeks, especially during hot and dry summer weather. This will help your spiral topiary to stay healthy, bushy and green, as well as to retain its spiral shape.


  • Never use blunt shears to prune the shrub, because this will harm the stems. Always make sure your pruning shears are clean and sharp.

About the Author


Sarah Terry brings over 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.