Create a Simple Topiary
Topiary lends structure and formality to any planting design and makes a useful focal point. All you need to bring an overgrown specimen back into shape, or to make a cone from scratch, are some basic tools, patience and a good eye.
When to Start: Early summer
At Its Best: All year round
Time to Complete: 1 hour
- 1 boxwood plant (Buxus sempervirens)
- household disinfectant
- sharp, long-handled shears
Select a Healthy Plant
When choosing a specimen to clip into topiary, look for one with dense, healthy growth, unblemished foliage and a strong leading stem in the center.
Start to Trim by Eye
Looking down on the plant, locate the central stem, which will form the top of the cone. With shears, trim around the stem to create the outline.
Keep Moving Around the Plant
Don't trim the topiary in "sides" — you risk overclipping one area. Continually move around the plant, regularly taking a step back to look at the overall shape.
Assess Shape From Top
When you have nearly finished, look down at the central stem to check that the outline of the cone is straight and even. Assess the shape all the way around and trim accordingly.
Established topiary should be pruned once or twice a year in midsummer and early autumn. Never clip on hot, sunny days to prevent the newly exposed foliage from being scorched.
Creating topiary shapes is much easier if you have the right tools; always keep the blades sharp and clean. Although you can use garden shears to trim cones and simple shapes, long-handled shears are a better choice because they offer greater control. For more intricate designs, use topiary shears (Image 1).
Top Tip: Clean Cuts
Boxwood blight is a major disease of boxwood. Protect your specimens by cleaning your pruning shears between plants with a spray of household disinfectant (Image 2).