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How to make a topiary

Melissa is the assignment editor and contributing writer for SheKnows Home and Living. While other little girls were playing dress up with Barbie, Melissa was busy remodeling Barbie's house. She now lives out her dream covering design an...

Once considered a staple of formal gardens, topiaries are getting a modern makeover as garden decor. Learn how to make a topiary at home.

  Once considered a staple of formal gardens, topiaries are getting some love as garden enthusiasts realize they make a nice addition to outside decor. Learn how to make a topiary and get tips for growing one at home.

 Topiary


Once considered a staple of formal gardens, topiaries are getting some love as garden enthusiasts realize they make a nice addition to outside decor. Learn how to make a topiary and get tips for growing one at home.

Topiaries come in all sorts of sizes and shapes. Traditional topiary forms include spheres, cones, pyramids, and spirals, but forms in the shape of various animals and even people are also popular.

Check out these 5 Animal topiaries.

Topiaries have been around for centuries, but the American style portable topiary was introduced in the 20th century with the opening of Disneyland. Disney topiaries are still celebrated during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

So, how do you make a topiary?

Location and plant type. Figure out where the plant will be located then determine the best type of plant for that space. Take into consideration the climate, soil, and sun exposure. Evergreens and boxwood are traditional topiary choices, but herbs like rosemary and even succulents also make stunning options.

Pick a design. Determine the type of topiary design you'd like to have. While it's possible to prune basic geometric shapes free-hand, you'll want to have a topiary form for more complicated shapes like animal silhouettes.

Tools. Having the proper tools to create and shape your topiary will make the job much easier. Smaller shears and pruners can help fine-tune detailed aspects of the topiary shape. Power tools can help trim larger shrubs and trees much quicker--just make sure to take proper safety precautions like wearing gloves and goggles.

Shape.

Step-by-step directions:

  1. Begin with a plant or shrub that has been planted either in the ground or in a soil-filled pot.

  2. Place the topiary form over the plant. Secure frame in soil.

  3. Water and care for plant. Fertilize when necessary.

  4. As plant grows, prune back any branches that grow beyond the frame. Avoid pruning more than 3" at a time.

  5. As the plant fills the frame in evenly, allow it to grow slightly outside the frame to hide it from view.

  6. Prune and train the plant into shape about every 3 months.


Have patience when attempting to make your topiary. The process will take several months to complete. Remember, you are growing a garden sculpture so take your time and you'll be rewarded with a gorgeous topiary.
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