How to make a topiary

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Topiary giant colourful dog shape


Topiary can turn a boring hedge into something fun. However, many people give up before they’ve even started, believing that it is simply too difficult. That’s because most people’s first thought is of some extravagantly shaped bush rather than something smaller and more subtle, which is where a beginner should… well, begin. So for those of you wishing to give it a try, here is a helpful guide to creating something worth shouting about.

Not all hedges are built equally

Some plants offer better attributes to topiary than others, so it is paramount to choose the right plant before you start. We offer Common Box, English Yew, and Photinia for topiary as these offer the ideal features needed for successful topiary. They have one straight stem, rather than a stem that branches out. They are evergreen and have strong, dense structures that remain in place in strong winds and other adverse weather conditions.

Get to grip with the basics

cutting topiary hedging


The tools you will need to create your plant sculptures are a pair of secateurs, long-handled shears and topiary shears. Make sure that these are sharp to prevent causing tears to branches. If you are new to topiary, then placing a form over your plant will assist you when sculpting. As the plant grows, the form will help guide your pruning. Making smaller cuts of no more than 3 inches in working towards your chosen shape will allow you to keep track on development. Once complete, pruning your topiary roughly every three months will help maintain its shape.   

Topiary for all occasions

Our common box plants come in ready-formed ball, cone, and spiral shapes, while our English yew comes in ball and cone shapes. Both are available in a wide variety of sizes to meet your requirements. For topiary, choose a plant of the desired height and then prune it.

We recommend you prune the plant twice a year; once in spring and then again in autumn using pruning shears as the leaves will suffer less than if they were cut by electric-powered shears. Our topiary hedges can either be planted in the ground or grown in containers.    

spiral topiary


When you make your own topiary take your time. Copying Edward Scissorhands is more likely to leave your hedge with irreversible damage, so take it slow and your patience will reward you with beautiful looking topiary.

We have a great selection of topiary plants here at Hopes Grove Nurseries. If you have any questions about topiary or any garden projects you have planned then contact our expert team.   

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