By: Heather Rhoades
Outdoor topiaries can create a striking effect in your garden. Taking the time to make your own topiary can save you up to several hundred dollars and give you a gardening focal point that you can be proud of.
How to Make Your Own Topiary
There are essentially two kinds of topiaries: vine topiaries, where vines are encouraged to grow over topiary forms, and shrub topiaries, where a shrub is cut into a form.
Make your own topiary with vines
- Choose topiary forms – whether you are making a topiary tree or something more elaborate, if you decide to use vining plants to make a topiary, you will need to choose a topiary form. This will allow the vine to crawl up the form and cover the shape.
- Choose a vining plant – English ivy is a common choice for a vining plant topiary, though any plant that vines can be used, such as periwinkle or Boston ivy. English ivy is generally chosen due to the fact that it grows quickly, is tolerant of many conditions, and looks lovely.
- Fill the form with sphagnum moss – While filling the topiary forms with sphagnum moss is not essential, it will help your topiary take on a fuller look much faster.
- Plant the vine around the form – Whether a potted topiary or an outdoor topiary in the ground, plant the vine around the form so that it can grow up the form. If you are using a large form or if you simply want to cover the form faster, you can use several plants around the form.
- Train and prune appropriately – As the plants grow, train them to the form by helping them wrap around the form. Also, prune or pinch back any shoots that cannot be easily trained to the topiary forms.
The time it will take to have a fully covered topiary varies depending on how many plants you use and the size of the topiary, but we can guarantee that when it is all filled in, you will be thrilled with the results.
Make your own topiary with shrubs
Making a topiary with a shrub is more difficult but still very fun.
- Choose the plant – It’s easiest to start a shrub topiary with a small juvenile shrub that can be molded as it grows, but you can accomplish an outdoor topiary effect with mature plants as well.
- Frame or no frame – If you are new to topiary, you’ll want to put topiary forms over the shrubs you choose to sculpt. As the plant grows, the frame will help guide you on your pruning decisions. If you are an experienced topiary artist, you can attempt to create topiary without topiary forms. Be aware that even experienced topiary artists will use frames to make things easier. If you have a larger shrub, you may need to build the frame around the topiary.
- Training and pruning – When creating a shrub outdoor topiary, you have to take things slowly. Envision how you want your final topiary to look and trim off no more than 3 inches (7.5 cm.) in working towards that shape. If you are working on growing a small shrub, prune 1 inch (2.5 cm.) off in areas where you need to fill in. Pruning will encourage additional, bushier growth. If you’re working on shaping a large shrub, take no more than 3 inches (7.5 cm.) off in areas where you wish to cut back. Any more than this will only kill off parts of the shrub and will ruin the process. Remember, when creating a shrub topiary, you are creating a sculpture in slow motion.
- Training and pruning again – We repeated this step because you will need to repeat this step — a lot. Train and prune the shrub a little more about every three months during active growth.
Take your time when you make your own topiary and take it slow. Your patience will be rewarded with a fabulous outdoor topiary.
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Pretty Up Your Backyard Designs with Topiary Art Adding Gorgeous Garden Decorations
Beautiful topiary design, swirling globe
Topiaries, as well as birdhouses, wind chines and garden gnomes are great garden decorations for modern backyard designs, allowing to personalize outdoor living spaces by adding attractive details to backyard or front yard landscaping ideas. Topiary are is a gorgeous way to express your style, unique personality and enjoy gardening in elegant style.
You can create a topiary at home or buy and bring home a few of these fabulous garden decorations, creating spectacular backyard design or adding more interest to your front yard landscaping ideas. Topiaries are designs with trailing plants that look fantastic.
Topiary art is growing green plants on wire forms for creating unique, eye catching and very pretty garden decorations. Topiary art pieces are great for formal front yard landscaping or casual backyard designs and beautiful gardens.
Topiary garden decorationsBeautiful topiary design, swirling globe
Few small topiary works look especially impressive, adding fantastic decorative accents to backyard designs and turning front yard landscaping ideas into cheerful and green masterpieces. Topiaries are excellent for decorating your home entrance and a garden path, jazz up empty spots in a backyard or brighten up your patio design.
Arranging small topiaries along the backyard entrance or around your house create a truly amazing look. Relaxing and casual backyard designs and front yard landscaping ideas benefit from even a small topiary art piece. Allowing the topiaries grow in a free, less restricted style add a natural feel to your outdoor living spaces.
Pyramid topiary design in winter garden
Topiaries are attractive garden decorations for any home. They look spectacular on flower beds, outdoor lights and stands. Small topiaries make exciting and unique gifts also that can slowly turn simple backyard designs into charming outdoor rooms.
All you need to create a topiary is a pot, a winding plant like ivy, and a simple or creative metal frame. Even an upturned tomato cage will do the trick helping create a unique garden decoration for your home.
Simple topiaries for backyard designs and front yard landscaping
Topiary is the art of creating ornamental shapes by trimming and training shrubs and trees. A skilled person can design almost any shape that you can imagine by constant and careful pruning and training the plant or shrub to grow around the selected frame. Common simple topiary design ideas range from globes, cubes and pyramids to personal letters, animals and birds.
The topiary art has been practiced for 2000 years. From Ancient Rome to modern garden designs, these spectacular and creative designs delight and amaze people.
Topiary art for unique backyard designs and front yard landscaping
Shrubs produce small, thick leaves and have dense foliage. Plants like the holly, laurel, boxwood, and privet possess these attributes and are excellent choices for topiary. The most popular amongst these choices is the boxwood. This is especially true for varieties such as the "Morris Dwarf" which keeps its compact shape even if it isn't trimmed. Then there are hollies that have leaves that are very similar to boxwoods, such as the Japanese holly (and its varieties), which can be shaped and trimmed in much the same way as a boxwood. If small isn't exactly the route you're looking to go, the larger leaves of the privet and the laurel are perfect for larger topiary.
Three Dimensional Forms
Find an object that is the shape and size of the topiary you want to create. Topiary frames can be formed around shapes made of foam, garden sculpture, stuffed animals, or other objects. Using the wire cutters, cut a piece of chicken wire to fit over the object, leaving some extra wire to allow for shaping.
Fit the chicken wire snugly around the object, remove sections of the wire with the wire cutters and pinching with the pliers as necessary make the chicken wire conform to the object's shape. Secure seams with the florist's wire, leaving a hole so that the object can be removed. After the frame is empty, close the seam with florist's wire, but leave the bottom open.
Place the frame over the plant in the container. Plants with small leaves are easy to train into shapes. Boxwood (genus Buxus), Hardiness Zones 6-8, is a traditional choice for topiary, but ivy is another possibility.
- Instead of placing the topiary wire frame over a container plant, you can fill your frame with a potting soils and moss mixture, and then plant small plants in some of the chicken wire's holes, spacing them so they adquately cover the frame as they grow. This method creates a living sculpture that doesn't require a container. Be sure to keep the moss watered. Your topiary will grow and fill out the form, so give it a trim in the summer to maintain its shape.
- Ivy and boxwood can be poisonous if ingested in large quantities. Keep pets and children away from the topiary.
Maggie Fry began her writing career in 1986. She has written for publications including "Seattle Weekly" and the Rodale Institute's New Farm online magazine. Fry earned a certificate in permaculture design from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania in 1997. She earned a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction from Goucher College in 2013.
Topiary Trees – How to Plant in Pots and Planters – Southern Patio
posted on 12/14/18 by Southern Patio
Topiary trees have developed and clearly defined shapes. Nothing can make your front door look more “put together” than having these trees in matching containers on either side of your entryway. But there are so many options and choices out there, it’s hard to select just one!
That’s why I like to keep it simple and classic with terracotta pots and round topiary trees.
These 14” terracotta clay pots from Southern Patio come with adequate drainage, so you don’t have to worry about drilling holes yourself.
Of course you’ll plant your topiaries just like any other plant by adding some soil to the pot, placing the plant in and topping with more potting soil. Push the soil firmly around the entire pot to ensure it’s compact.
But since you’re making 2 containers to flank either side of your door, you also want them to be equal to each other! Sometimes the tree may not have grown upright or centered in the plastic pot it comes in from the store, so adjust it based on the tree trunk, not the root ball, in your terra cotta pot as necessary! Either way you want to make sure it’ll match its counterpart.
To keep the soil from floating out when you water your new plants, add some neutral-colored pea gravel on top. This also helps keep the soil moist so your topiary won’t get thirsty too quickly. And it’s much prettier than potting soil!
The orange tint of the terra cotta is such a great compliment to the dark green of the topiaries. Not to mention the size of the pot keeps the tree well-balanced.
Whether you have 1, 2, 3, or 4, there’s no denying a topiary in a terracotta clay pot is a warm and inviting welcome to anyone who visits your home!
Check out some other terracotta planter ideas!
How to Make a Terracotta Pot O’ Gold
Creating a Topiary
Step one is staking — select a stem to become the framework for the plant. "The important thing about staking is making sure the stake is as close to that strong central leader as possible," she says. "You want it right up against the plant."
Secure stem to stake using biodegradable string. This way you can throw the whole thing on the compost heap later. "In any kind of staking, you want to do what I call a figure-eight knot," she says. A figure-eight keeps the plant from rubbing against the stake.
A snug tie holds the central leader straight. "I like to make three of these ties, because that way my stake and my leader are connected very firmly, and there's no chance of that leader going anywhere but straight up," says Plato.
After tying the bottom, middle and top, grab the pruners. The next step in creating a standard is to decide what material to remove from the plant — this is the point at which you actually shape the topiary. The traditional formula for a one-ball standard is dividing everything into thirds, with the pot being the bottom third. Plato uses the height of the pot as a guide for how much foliage to take away. Making clean cuts, remove all foliage between the soil and where you want the ball to begin. Remember, each cut below stimulates new growth above.
Now it's time to form the lollipop. Once you've staked, tied and clipped, the next step is to do the shaping. Envision a basketball and rotate the pot as you pinch or prune the plant into shape. Pinching back many plants like coleus results in fuller growth. Step back periodically to check the roundness. Don't forget to examine all sides of the topiary for symmetry and shape.