When most people think of topiary, they think of exotic animals and fanciful shapes. But the most common forms of topiary include geometric shapes such as spirals, squares, rectangles and circles. Maintaining the shape of a topiary ball can be challenging. The secret to trimming a topiary circle is to use a guide. Without a guide, a free-hand topiary circle can soon look lopsided or even oval in shape.
Cut a length of galvanized wire long enough to circle your shrub.
Flex the wire to the point that it curves into a perfect circle.
Turn on a soldering gun and allow it to heat. Melt a bead of solder on one end of the galvanized wire. Touch the other end of the galvanized wire to the bead of solder. Allow the soldier to dry, fixing the wire into a perfect circle.
Soak a cloth with liquid bleach. Swipe the cloth over the blades of garden shears before trimming your shrub to prevent the spread of disease.
Place the galvanized wire circle over your shrub to act as a guide. Snip away the tips of any branches that extend beyond the guide.
Drive garden stakes into the ground at four points around the topiary with a mallet.
Tie each corner of a sun shade to the garden stakes. The sun shade will help keep the topiary cooler by blocking the sun's rays.
Water the plant more frequently until the roots of the plant can become established. A topiary plant such as a boxwood may require 1 inch of rain or water from a garden hose every seven to 10 days from spring until fall for two years. You may place a rain gauge in the ground near the topiary to determine if it has received enough water from either rainfall or your garden hose.
Trim back the topiary to remove the brown foliage and any dead wood with a pair of pruning shears.
Allow the topiary to grow new foliage to replace the removed brown foliage before attempting to shape the plant again.
Mix liquid plant fertilizer and water according to the specific product instructions. Use a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer; buxus does not require extra types of nutrients.
Spray the soil surrounding the buxus plants with the recommended amount of fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season, which is generally from early summer to early fall.
Apply the final dose of fertilizer before the first frost of the season. Do not fertilize the plant during the winter, since new growth will not be able to withstand cold weather. Begin the feeding regimen again after the final frost of the year in the spring.
Choose a tree with a straight central trunk and short lateral branches for a spiral topiary. The tree should be small enough that you can reach the top.
Tie the ribbon at the top of the tree. Wind the ribbon around the tree from the top to the bottom to mark the spiral shape you want. For best results, do not wind the ribbon too close together. Leave at least 12 to 18 inches between the rounds of ribbon. That will give the tree plenty of room to assume the spiral shape.
Prune away the branches along the ribbon’s path. Trim protruding branches all the way to the trunk, if necessary.
Remove the ribbon after you have trimmed the basic spiral shape into the tree’s structure. Smooth out uneven areas with small clippers.
Use small trimmers to shape the spiral as the tree grows. Clip away new leggy growth as it appears, and the spiral shape will be maintained. Allow new growth to fill in the empty areas where it is needed to complete the shape of the spiral.
Place the sphagnum moss in a container or sink filled with clean water. Soak the sphagnum moss in water until it's thoroughly saturated.
Pack the wire animal topiary frame with handfuls of the wet sphagnum moss, beginning with the legs and tail. Continue to pack the entire frame with the moss until it's completely filled and packed tightly. You shouldn't be able to see most of the animal topiary frame when you're finished packing it with the sphagnum moss.
Wrap each section of the wire animal frame with microfilament or nylon fishing line. Tie one end of the line or microfilament to one end of the topiary frame, and then wrap the line tightly and evenly around all sections of the frame.
Space the line as you're wrapping it so you can easily cover the line and it won't be visible later. When you're finished wrapping the frame sections, cut the line or microfilament and tie off the end to part of the animal topiary frame.
Cover the topiary frame with pieces of moist sphagnum moss, covering any areas where the frame, microfilament or nylon line shows. Use florist pins or hair pins to help affix the moss in place on the topiary frame.
Wrap the tape or ribbon around the surface of the tree. Start at the top and use the tape or ribbon to mark the spiral shape. If the tree is rather large, or you have not done this before, it may take anywhere from five minutes to an hour to create a spiral shape on the tree.
Cut out one line of the spiral, as marked by the tape. Use large trimmers or very strong pruning shears. Experts and physically strong people may prefer to use electric trimmers.
Round out the spiral with shorter trimmers or pruning sheers.
Finesse the spiral look with smaller pruning shears, and even grass shears. Carefully shape the smaller parts of the tree's growth to get the exact form you want.
Pinch prune new growth during the growing season. This will force the plant to grow more laterally and will help maintain the shape. Maintain your topiary with both your fingers and shears.