Braid a Bay Tree

Braided Bay Tree Topiary

Braided Bay Tree Topiary

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Bay trees can be kept trimmed to make classic evergreen lollipop-shaped topiary. Straight stems look handsome, but for extra texture you can braid or twist several stems around each other. It is an expensive look that you can achieve yourself; all you need are young plants and time for them to grow.

When to Plant: Late spring or early summer
At Its Best: All year round
Time to Plant: 4 hours

Materials Needed:

  • two or three young bay plants, or a plant with suckering stems
  • sharp spade
  • clippers
  • large container
  • broken clay pot pieces
  • soil-based potting mix
  • slow-release granular fertilizer

Select Straight Stems

If you have a multistemmed bay, dig it up and select the longest and straightest stems. Alternatively, buy a plant with lots of stems. Sever the root ball between the stems with a sharp spade.

Retrieve Root Ball

Retrieve Root Ball

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Plant Stems Together

Place some clay pot pieces in the base of a large container, at least 12 in (30 cm) wide. Add soil-based potting mix and some fertilizer, and plant two or three stems as close together as possible.

Potted Bay Leaf Trees

Potted Bay Leaf Trees

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Remove Leaves

Make sure that the bay stems are planted at the same depth as they were in the ground or pot. Use clippers to remove the leaves from the lower two–thirds of the stems. Rub off any new leaf buds with your fingers.

Remove Leaves From Bay Tree

Remove Leaves From Bay Tree

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Braid Stems

In spring and summer, when the wood is sappy, the stems should be pliable enough to be loosely braided, repeatedly passing the stems left over right, right over left. It may look forced at first, but will even out as the stems grow.

Trim Off Uneven Growth

Once you have finished braided, secure the stems temporarily with strong garden twine, then trim off any uneven growth to leave a compact head. As the tree grows, prune lightly to encourage bushier growth.

Braid Stems of Bay Tree

Braid Stems of Bay Tree

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Plant in Gardening Containers

To ensure that plants in gardening containers grow and perform as well as possible, you need to plant them properly.

How to Grow an Avocado Tree: Guac 'n' Roll

Tips for turning that avocado pit into a thriving avocado tree and your next bowl of guacamole.

How to Remove a Tree Stump

Learn how to properly remove an old tree stump from your yard with these simple tips and instructions.

How to Plant a Cactus Container Garden

Yee-haw! Turn a container into a desert landscape by filling it with prickly cacti and other succulent plants. 

Planting Trees

Use these planting tips to ensure your trees get the best start possible.

How to Plant a Cactus Container Garden

Yee-haw! Turn a container into a desert landscape by filling it with prickly cacti and other succulent plants.

How to Plant an Herb Container Garden

Herbs have been grown all over the world for centuries for their flavor and healthful benefits. Learn how to plant an herb container garden.

How to Plant a Kitchen Herb Garden

Have some extra space in your yard or garden? Plant a fresh and simple herb garden only steps away from the kitchen.

How to Plant a Poppy Container Garden

Learn how to plant a container garden for various types of poppies with this step-by-step gardening guide.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.