How to make topiary?

How to Make an Animal Topiary?

Explore our guide on how to make Topiary frames, topiary horses and more!

  • How to make a topiary – Making your topiary is a proud achievment to any garden.
  • How to Make Artificial Topiary for a Wedding Reception – Be sure to plan months in advance to have a topiary wedding as supplies and artsians are hard to find..
  • They are easy to trim as well. Animal topiaries bring interest and attention to any space. Uncovering the best topiary forms will result in beautiful accent pieces that can be displayed in gardens or another special places.

    2) Texture:

    Take a few moments to look at your animal. Then look for plants which best represent it. Fur, feathers, mane; smooth, fluffy, scaly. Picture your animal dressed in plants. Don’t forget detail: whiskers in kittens, stripes for bees, and eyes for personality! Plant color can create a pattern in your animal.

    3) Size:

    Smaller leaf plants work best on smaller animals. The idea is to compliment, not overwhelm the form.

    4) Winter Care:

    a) Water well before frost
    b) Mulch and /or move to a protected area or unheated garage near a window (water here about once a month)

    5) Place form over a living Plant:

    Let the plant (box wood, euonymus, ivy) grow into the form. Trim the plant until it fills the form.

    A) Plant from the outside first:

    Soak the moss filled form in water and let drain. If you have ‘cell pack’ sized plants (3/4”-1 ½” sq.) you can poke a hole into the damp moss from the outside of the form and insert the plant.

    B) Plant from the Inside:

    Soak the moss filled form in water and let drain. Snip the plastic connecting ties and open the form into its parts. Pull out some of the moss. Remove a little of the soil from around the root ball and insert your plant into the form. Wiggle the leaves up through the wires. Repack the moss around the roots. When planted, reattach the form with the cable ties provided.

    If using A or B above, water with starter fertilizer 10-52-10 & keep in a shaded area, out of the wind for several days before moving to the selected area in your garden. Check for water daily, as you would a hanging basket. Fertilize every other week.

    6) Sustainability:

    A must have is the ability to sustain the look of your topiary over time. Here, we present our recommendations to revive your topiary forms


    Planting a topiary, taking care of it, determining its development and watching it grow-is a rewarding and fulfilling craft and art.

    Formal, fanciful or modern, garden topiaries make one take notice. They do have a bad rap though, for being high maintenance. You don’t need a team of well paid gardeners and a palatial estate to have these in your yard. In fact, you can make them yourself! We won’t lie, you do have to keep them up. But a little bit of trimming and clipping is nothing compared to what they give back. So check out these DIY topiary projects for the garden, get one (or two!) started of your own, and send us photos of your creations!

    How to Make a DIY Topiary

    This gorgeous bit of inspiration is from the Royal Château of Amboise gardens in France. There are a few ways to DIY a garden topiary, depending on what effect you are looking for and how much work you want to put into it. First of all, here are the basics for trimming a shrub into fun shapes. The tutorials that follow have more in-depth directions on how to make a DIY topiary.

    Choose your shrub.

    Evergreen broadleaf shrubs such as boxwood, yew and privet are the best shrubs to start with. Ivy also can be trained into topiary shapes with a frame.

    Choose your shape.

    Formal topiaries tend to be a geometric shape, a standard, a globe, a spiral or a pyramid shape. These are probably the best place for a beginner to start.

    Wire, or wireless?

    Nope, not shopping for bras here ladies. You can either purchase or make a wire frame to create a structure for the shape, or you can choose to go wireless and trim freehand. Wire frames are also necessary if you are using an ivy plant.

    Shape your topiary.

    If you are using ivy you will be growing the ivy to fit inside the frame. If you are doing a shrub topiary, you will be pruning the shrub as it grows to fit within the frame.

    Take care of your plant!

    Topiaries bought from a nursery are very expensive, based on the amount of time it takes to bring them to maturity. You wouldn’t let an expensive shrub die for lack of care, so don’t treat your DIY topiary any differently! Water them regularly, watch for signs of pest and treat promptly, and plant in good soil. Want more step by step details? This article from ‘Do It Yourself‘ takes you all the way through DIY topiary in pretty good detail.

    ‘HGTV‘ shows us how to create a boxwood topiary using wire as a template for pruning. This makes the process a little less freehand, but doesn’t require a wire frame!

    You can also buy topiary templates if you prefer, like this one from ‘French Gardening‘. Seems like this might be a tool to make the job a lot easier!

    Matt Mattus from ‘Ehow Home‘ shows us how to make an herb topiary from cuttings. Yep, herb topiaries can be used out in the garden or brought indoors. They can be grown from rooted cuttings or even easier, store bought plants. And yep, you can still cook with them! Follow his tutorial to grow these gorgeous little standards.

    Also from ‘HGTV‘, maintaining your DIY topiary is as simple as using trimmers on it regularly to keep the shape.

    Ok, now for a little inspiration. Think topiary is just for a traditional garden? Here is a great photo from ‘Evergreen Direct‘ that shows that they can be very contemporary too. Ok, full disclosure, these are artificial plants. Either way, the idea remains the same!

    From ‘Jeff Krause‘, this photo of Goofy at ‘Epcot Center’ shows us how fun garden topiary can get! You would need a frame and a bit of patience for more complex shapes like this.

    Finally, we just couldn’t resist this cute little elephant topiary. We have no idea where it’s from, so if anyone knows the correct source, please email us! We Googled “animal topiary frames” and found some cool possibilities out there! Let’s make a topiary!

    We hope you enjoyed learning how to make DIY Topiary Projects for the Garden! We think you would also love our posts on DIY Garden Gates or How to Build a DIY Trellis!

    Image Credits: HGTV, Royal Château of Amboise , Do It Yourself, HGTV, French Gardening, EHow Home, Evergreen Direct, Jeff Krause

    This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.

    Tips for Getting Started with Topiaries


    Topiaries are as popular as ever. They are plants that have been trained to grow into a certain decorative shape through pruning or by growing around a frame. It’s considered an art by many gardeners and can add formality to any style of yard from English to zen gardens.

    Whether your plan is to shape whimsical animals or a simple ball topiary, here are things to consider before growing your own.

    Why a Topiary?

    The reasons why one might place topiaries in an outdoor living space are varied.

    Framed topiaries in the shape of animals, for examples, are an easy outdoor project for the kids to help with that may just spark an interest in gardening.

    Upright topiaries, such as the spiral version above, help define an entry, garage, or even an outdoor kitchen. They can provide extra privacy when placed in front of windows, help hide ugly fencing or provide a pop of color on a large paver patio. Smaller topiaries often serve as centerpieces on outdoor tables and kitchen islands.

    The homeowners below live in San Diego’s Mission Hills neighborhood and maintain one of the most ornate topiary gardens in town. It is a labor of love but also done for the enjoyment of passers-by. People drive out of their way to admire it.

    While the above is an extraordinary example of topiary use, our point is that the options are seemingly endless for those who are willing to take on topiary care. And, many topiaries are so subtle they look like they could be a plant’s natural shape.

    Decide What Kind of Topiary

    There are basically two types of traditional topiaries: shrubs that can be pruned into shapes and vines that can be trained to grow around a frame.

    Spiral topiaries (as seen in the top photo) look like a combination of the two techniques but a majority of the time they are just shrubs pruned into a spiral. (We’ll tell you how to do it.)

    Topiaries can be container plants or placed directly in the ground, depending on where you’d like to put it. A good rule of thumb is to choose plants with small leaves that don’t flower. Flowering distracts from and can muddle topiary shape.

    Succulent topiaries are becoming popular in Southern California but since they require a different technique, we’ll cover them in a separate post.

    Vining Topiaries

    Vining topiaries climb around a frame so the first thing to do is find as shape that you like. (We recently read online that the most popular frame at Mission Hills Nursery is a bear shape.) Next, choose the type of vine. A number of great options are available for Southern California gardens including English ivy, wandering Jew, and creeping fig. Your local nursery will be able to help narrow down the choices based on the look you’d like.

    Many gardeners choose to fill topiary frames with sphagnum moss so that they look full while the vines are growing into shape. The moss may need to be wrapped around a frame with fishing line or dental floss to prevent it from falling out of the frame. Then, the frame is planted with whatever vines you choose.

    Patience is required over the next several months or longer as the vine grows into shape. Wrap tendrils around the frame and trim as necessary until the frame is filled to your liking.

    Shrub Topiaries

    The first step when creating a shrub topiary is to select the plant. Young plants are typically easier to shape but some mature plants will work, too.

    Shaping a shrub topiary can take several months. Pruning encourages bushier growth and some experts believe that when training shrub topiaries, depending on the size of the plant, pruning should be done in gradual steps to prevent the shrub from shock. For example, trim 3″ at a time if it’s a big plant and perhaps 1″ off of smaller plants. These steps will need to be repeated multiple times so channel some patience.

    You can purchase frames to help guide shrub pruning which might be a good step for a newbie to this particular art form. For example, if you’d like to prune a ficus into a perfect ball. Place a ball frame over the tree and prune around it.

    Good plant choices for shrub topiaries include boxwoods, junipers, heavenly bamboo, cyprus trees and a myriad of other choices. It’s also very easy to prune herbs like rosemary into a geometric topiary. A simple round circle in a pot would make a lovely centerpiece.

    Spiral Topiaries

    It is actually possible to create your own spiral topiary at home from a cone-shaped evergreen tree or shrubs that are planted in containers or directly in the ground.

    Take a thick ribbon and wrap it around the tree in the desired spiral shape, starting from the top and ending at the bottom. It’s important to make sure that the ribbon’s spirals are evenly-spaced so take a look at the shrub from every angle to make sure it’s exactly to your liking.

    Next, cut away branches (as close to the trunk as possible) that fall under the ribbon. Remove the ribbon and trim any other loose leaves or branches to perfect the shape.

    Ongoing Topiary Maintenance

    Topiaries are a commitment to art and will require ongoing maintenance by you or a gardener.

    Watering properly is extremely important. Shrub topiaries should be watered in a manner that avoids leaf fungus. This means watering at the base of the plant only in the mornings. Water-soluable plant fertilizers should be applied every month or six weeks during the plant’s growing months. Be aware that fertilizer keeps the plants healthy but also may cause them to grow quickly. In the case of a topiary, this means a bit of extra pruning.

    Moss topiaries probably need to be sprayed, misted or dunked in water depending on the size. Whatever the method, make sure they are in a place where water can drain properly from the frame. They will require more frequent watering as moss can’t retain as much water as soil can.

    Your Turn…

    What kind of topiaries do you have at home?

    Photo credit: Mission Hills house, Flickr/joebehr

    Topiary can be beautiful, stylish and sometimes jaw-droppingly impressive.

    Adding some hedge art to your garden could be a great way to liven things up and make your outside space stand out from others on the street. But where to start?

    We speak to Stanley Jackson, director of topiary company Agrumi, to find out all about their expert work and discover some top tips on how to create fantastic topiary in your own garden.

    Who are Agrumi?

    Starting around 10 years ago, Agrumi relocated to the New Forest from Italy, supplying topiary in bespoke and classic forms. The company have an extensive portfolio of work, creating many imaginative topiary sculptures, including The Beatles, red-shanked douc monkeys for The Body Shop, letters and figures for a boutique hotel in Miami, figures for a restaurant at Grand Central Station in New York, and promotional letters for Glastonbury Festival, among many others.

    Bob KristGetty Images

    ‘We can be making horses, giraffes, dinosaurs, cars and fantasy figures – you name it and we can make it,’ Stanley said. ‘Our motto is that we will undertake any commission – let your imagination and our plant expertise combine to create something that will delight, surprise and inspire.

    ‘Our topiary team is particularly gifted with the ability to capture the quirky characteristics and sense of movement of animals.’

    Sound exciting? Stanley shares his expert advice on how you can bring topiary to your own garden…


    Top topiary tips

    1. If you have a densely grown, small-leaved plant in your garden – perhaps a yew or box variety – you can easily trim it into a ball or pyramid shape. You can buy cutting shapes to help. As the plant grows you should trim it regularly, but leave 3-5cm every time to allow the shape to bulk up.

    2. If you want to start from scratch, you can buy frames and a topiary starter kit from

    3. The best type of plant for topiary depends on its purpose, desired result, and length of time available. Our plant of choice for long-lasting effect is box-leafed privet – ligustrum delavayanum (£26.84, Amazon). This compact, evergreen shrub has oval dark green leaves and small white flowers in early summer, followed by blue-black berries. It takes a while to grow before reaching its prime but looks good after one season. It’s also resilient and easily woven onto wire frames.

    Richard Baker / ContributorGetty Images

    4. Alternatively, you can buy a topiary plant from stock shapes or made to your own design.

    5. Whichever topiary plant you choose, however, the advice for its care is the same. Deep, fertile, well-drained soil in a sheltered, partially shaded site is perfect.

    6. Don’t allow the soil to dry out.

    7. Feed regularly – coppery brown or cream-tipped leaves are signs of nutritionally depleted soil.

    8. Use sharp scissors or shears (£16.49, Amazon) to trim the plant. Topiary appreciates good air circulation. If the foliage becomes too thick it may be a good idea to thin out the growth, allowing more light and air into the body of the plant.


    9. Re-pot the plant into a larger container every couple of years. If you can’t do this, take the plant out of its pot and carefully remove some of the roots and soil from the root ball using a sharp knife. It should be re-potted in a mixture of new, loam-based compost such as John Innes No.3 (£7.42, Amazon) and slow-release fertiliser.

    10. Time is the biggest challenge with topiary. Like any living thing, they take a little time to mature. If you want instant impact with large-scale designs we often recommend artificial coverings – boxwood matting (£6.99, Amazon), Namgrass or even LED lights. These have the added attraction of being easy to maintain.

    For more tips and guidance, visit the Agrumi topiary art website:

    Get inspiration, ideas and advice wherever you are! Follow us on Facebook: House Beautiful UK | Pinterest: House Beautiful UK | Twitter: @HB | Instagram: @housebeautifuluk

    Katie Avis-Riordan I’m Web Writer at Country Living and House Beautiful

    Topiaries are plants that have been pruned and trained to grow into distinct decorative shapes. They’re basically slow-growing artistic masterpieces. Whether you grow them geometrically or fanciful like spirals, spheres or even elephants, the options are endless.

    Topiaries can be grown from vines or shrubs, and even some herbs. The amount of time it takes to grow a topiary will depend on the topiary’s size and the number of plants you use. Most gardeners use a topiary frame or form to get the look they desire. Visit your local garden center to find out more about the best plants for your topiary.

    Topiaries with vining plants

    When using vining plants, you’ll need to get a topiary form to encourage the vines to grow in the shape you’ve chosen. English ivy, Boston ivy and periwinkle are popular choices for vining topiaries. To start, fill the form with sphagnum moss to create a full look. Then, plant the vine around the form, allowing the vines to grow upward. You may need several plants to achieve a full look. As the vines grow, train them by wrapping and attaching them around the form with plant ties or wires and pruning regularly.

    Topiaries with shrubs

    Start small when making a shrub topiary. Choose a variety such as holly, boxwood or laurel. Look for dwarf varieties that will stay compact and won’t need much pruning. If you’re looking to create a pyramid or geometrical shape, select shrubs with tall growth habits such as yews or hollies. For statuesque spirals and cones, choose arborvitae. Beginners will want to use topiary frames to sculpt their designs, which will also help when deciding what needs to be pruned. To train and prune your topiary, you’ll need a clear vision of how you want the topiary to look. Pruning encourages new and bushier growth, but don’t cut off more than 3 inches in the areas you want to trim back.

    Fertilizing topiaries

    Help topiaries reach their full potential as quickly as they can by using Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus when planting. Follow-up with Espoma’s Grow! liquid fertilizer. Grow! encourages root growth and deep green foliage that will surely delight. For acid-loving plants like hollies, use Holly-tone for best results.

    Remember that topiaries take time and so be patient. Your time, maintenance and patience will pay off!

    Live & Artificial Indoor/Outdoor Topiary Trees

    Al Roker Announcing PeacockTV Streaming on the Today Show from NBC Made this Topiary Peacock

    We offer the largest online inventory for Commercial Topiary, Animal Forms, Artificial Topiary Trees, and Custom Made Topiary



    Learn more about our outdoor topiaries from our nursery

    Need an extra large topiary?

    Our outdoor topiaries can

    sustain a healthy natural

    look for years during

    harsh weather elements such

    as snow, snow, and rain.

    Learn more!

    Need Live Topiary Animals Formations that are Alive for Commercial Use?

    Outdoor Topiary Indoor Topiary Trees: Spiral Topiary

    Live Topiaries: Live Double with Ball Thuja Topiary 6 to 7 Feet Tall

    Live Double Thuja Topiary 6 to 7 Feet Tall


    We offer the most extensive selection of custom topiary art forms that you can buy online. We use only the most talented topiary artists in the business to provide beautiful topiary designs for our customers. Potted topiary plants, especially those accented with red ribbon can be displayed outside to provide an elegant appearance. Whatever your design tastes, we can most certainly accommodate you. We have a wide selection of topiary that ranges from preserved boxwood topiaries to double pond cypress spirals. You can use our topiary to decorate your cottage garden, front yard, backyard, front doors or anywhere else you have in mind. Many people who use topiary require outdoor lighting, but this doesn’t always have to be the case. We also offer faux topiary for indoor or outdoor options. Learn more here on how we mount the topiary into the ground.

    With that being said, live topiary plants are simple to maintain and will last throughout the winter season. Since topiary complements any decor, we suggest selecting one or picking up a few as gifts. Speaking of gifts, Christmas topiary is always an excellent choice. Nothing sets the holiday mood like Christmas décor! We offer Christmas trees and Christmas wreaths.

    If you wish to transform your yard or garden into a beautiful work of art, outdoor topiary trees will be the best choice for you. If you’ve visited professional topiary gardens, you likely left in awe. There’s no reason that your own garden can’t leave the same effect on your own visitors. Our topiary is perfect for those who enjoy an outdoor living lifestyle because it gives you something beautiful to admire as you enjoy the great outdoors. Our topiary is even UV resistant.

    We offer a variety of outdoor topiaries, the first being made of poly blend material that can endure most artic/heat weather conditions. We also offer real topiary trees that grow in your garden and trees in pots.

    We are Your Source for Boxwood Topiaries:

    Live Boxwood Topiaries (Buxus)

    Artificial Boxwood Topiary

    Preserved Boxwood Topiary

    Our Boxwood topiaries are grown in the shape of a globe and trimmed at a young age so that they achieve a tight full look. Most growers neglect to go through this simple process, and as a result of their boxwood topiaries never achieve a perfect shape.

    We offer boxwood topiaries of all kinds:

    English boxwood

    Ball Boxwood

    Spiral boxwood

    Preserved boxwoods

    We also provide boxwood spiral designs, boxwood double ball designs, and artificial boxwoods!

    Buy your spiral topiaries here!

    Spiral trees make an excellent topiary. We have a healthy selection of spiral topiary for you to choose from:

    Cypress spirals

    Cedar spirals

    Double cedar spirals

    No matter your selection, our spiral topiary trees are high quality. The cypress spiral topiary is absolutely perfect for a front gate or porch!

    Our Boxwood topiaries are grown in the shape globe and trimmed at a young age so they achieve a tight full look as shown. Most growers typically send a boxwood globe that is cut into a globe before it is shipped and will not have this full look as they were not grown as globe at a young age.

    Animal Topiary How To & Care

    How to Plant & Care for My Animal Topiary

    Do I need to water the moss if I am not ready to plant?

    No. Think of the moss as the “soil” in your topiary as it will not “grow” on its own. In fact, it is best if you keep the moss dry until you are ready to plant due to the fact that the moss has an amazing water retention quality and it may start to rot if there are no plants to utilize the water. However, you may choose not to plant your topiary at all.

    Which plants do I use?

    Plant Texture: Take a few moments to look at your animal, then look for plants, which best represent it. (fur, feathers, mane; smooth fluffy, scaly.) Picture your animal dressed in plants. Don’t forget the details: whiskers in kittens, stripes for bees, eye lashes on your giraffe. Plant color can create a pattern in your animal.

    Scale: Smaller leafed plants work best on smaller animals. The idea is to compliment, not overwhelm the form.

    Culture: It is best to use plants that like the same conditions. We tend to use succulents, which are drought tolerant. Rock garden type plants, which are low growing, make great topiary plants.

    How do I plant my topiary?

    Plant From Outside The Form
    1. Soak the moss filled form in water and let drain

    1. If you have “cell pack” sized plants (3/4” to 1 ½”) you can poke a hole into the damp moss from the outside of the form and insert the plant plug.
    2. To Plant From Inside The Form
    3. Soak the moss filled form in water and let drain
    4. Snip the plastic connecting ties and open the form into it’s parts (this is exclusive to Green Piece Wire Art) and pull out some of the moss
    5. Remove a little of the soil from around the root ball and insert your plant into the form. Wiggle the leaves up through the wires. Repack the moss around the roots. When planted, reattach the form with plastic cable connectors

    How do I water my topiary?

    1. Once you have your topiary planted, water with a good starter fertilizer (10-52-10) and keep in a partly shaded area out of the wind.
    2. Check for water daily, as you would a hanging basket or deck planter the smaller parts of your topiary will likely need water daily in the hot summer months. Fertilize every other week with a balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer.

    The ideal location for your topiary is in some sun, mostly shade. This will help prevent the plants on the topiary from getting too dried out. The smaller parts, arms, legs, etc., will dry out fastest. Be sure to check your topiary daily and really soak the plants that need it. It your topiary is all succulents, it can tolerate more sun and dryness.

    What do I do with my topiary over the winter months?

    Here you have a couple of options. If your topiary is small to medium in size, one option is to mulch in your item (using leaves/grass clippings) or wrap it in burlap. Or you can move it indoors to an unheated garage near a window. The key here is to protect the plants from the wind. If your topiary is too large to mulch in or move indoors, you can drive stakes into the ground and wrap it in burlap. Again, this is to prevent the wind from getting at the roots. Alternatively you can simply let your topiary stay as it is and replant in the spring, giving your item a fresh new batch of color and texture.

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