How to Make a Topiary from an Established Shrub

What You'll Need
Target shrub
Pruning equipment

Topiary is just a fancy word for a designed shrub. Topiaries are shrubs that have been pruned in such a way that they grow in a pleasing fashion or a recognizable pattern. A hedge maze is a famous example of a topiary that can be found all over the world. If you are interested in making these topiaries from your shrubs, here's how to do it.

Step 1 – Choose Shrub

The first thing that you need to do is choose a shrub to make into your topiary. The shrub does not necessarily have to be an established one, but for the purposes of this demonstration an established shrub is easier to work on.

Step 2 – Choose Topiary Shape

You can make shrubs into almost anything you want when creating topiaries, but it is best to choose an easier shape for your first one.

Step 3 – Prune Season #1

The main tool at your disposal for creating topiaries is pruning, so make sure that you use it liberally when you are making a shrub into a topiary. Pruning can allow you to create shapes like spheres or globes from shrubs that would normally grow quite differently, and they can even allow you to create shooters.  

Shooters are individual or groups of shoots that are allowed to grow to their full height from the rest of a pruned shrub. In order to create shooters, select the parts of the shrub that you will allow to grow to full height.  Prune the rest of the shrub to a compact geometric shape while allowing a handful of shoots to grow to form the shooter.

Using the shoots themselves, create braids to form a single large shooter from the smaller shoot stems. Then tie pieces of string at regular intervals along the braided shooter in order to help it maintain the shape that you want.

Step 4 – Prune Season #2

Once the winter months have gone by and your shrub has once again started growing, it is time to continue creating your topiary. Continue to follow instructions outlined in the previous step, going along with the original plan that you created in steps 1 and 2. By the end of this season, you should have your topiary in the shape that you want.

Step 5 – Repeat

Repeat the process with other shrubs and feel free to experiment with creating different shapes. Shrubs can be made into geometric shapes, shooters or just about anything else with proper pruning. Just make sure you pay attention to already created topiaries, however, as some of them might need maintenance from season to season.