If you’ve ever visited botanical gardens, or even Disneyland, you might have marveled at the beauty of topiaries. They do add a whimsical, striking effect to your landscape, and learning to make them yourself can be fun (plus help you save money).
Basically, there are two ways to make topiaries: You can construct them from vines that you grow over a topiary form, or you can prune shrubs into the desired shape.
If you want to make a topiary with vines…
Choose your topiary form. You can purchase them pre-made from wreath wire, or make them yourself.
Decide upon your vining plant. English ivy is the most common choice for topiaries, because it grows quickly and is very hardy. But you can use any vining plant for this project.
Fill your topiary form with sphagnum moss. This step isn’t required, but it will help your topiary take on the desired shape much more quickly.
Plant the vine. Place your vining plant so that it can grow up the form. If you’re creating a larger topiary, you might wish to plant several vines.
Train the vine. As your vine grows, adjust it so that it wraps around the form appropriately. Trim off any shoots that resist training.
If you want to make a topiary with shrubbery…
Choose a young juvenile shrub.
Select a topiary form and place it over the shrub. Yes, some professional topiary artists will prune shrubs into intricate shapes without using a form, but even professionals often use them. So it’s perfectly fine for a beginner to do so!
Gradually prune the shrub into the appropriate shape. Prune an inch off of areas where you need to stimulate growth. Keep in mind that trimming more than 3 inches can kill off that area of the shrub. The idea is to shape the shrub as it grows into the desired shape. Steady, consistent effort is key; don’t let your shrub become overgrown, because it’s much easier to gradually shape than it is to cut it back and start over.
Once you have achieved the shape you want, you will continue to train and shape the topiary. About every three months during its active growth season, you will need to gently prune it back into the correct shape.
If you’d like any more advice on incorporating topiaries into your landscape, give us a call. We can help you decide upon the type of plant you should use for your project, help you choose a shape that will complement your space, and answer any other questions you might have about your landscaping.