Giving Shape To Your Yard -- 4 Steps To Creating A Topiary

Want to make your yard really cool and unique? Try adding a topiary or two to your landscape design. Here are 4 steps to creating and keeping a beautiful one.

Decide How to Use a Topiary. Topiary can be made in many different designs, shapes, and sizes, so consider first what would work in your existing landscape plan. You may want to start with a simple geometric shape like a ball, or a small and manageable "test" topiary in a container. Or you may want to add a series of similar shapes to create a stunning vista, line a walkway, or create a wall for an outdoor entertainment space. Rather than jumping into the project, take time to think about how much time you can put into it and what mood or theme you want to create. For large topiary, you may want to work with a professional landscape designer, such as Botanical Bruce & Co., to ensure it works with your sun level and landscaping plan. 

Choose a Plant. Generally, evergreens are the first choice for large yard topiary because they stay green and full all year long and are easier to manipulate. Box, privet, holly, and yew are great choices for a topiary plant. If you want something other than evergreens, you can opt for a large-leafed vine such as ivy. Vines may give you more stems and greater flexibility to start out with, but they require more artificial structure and framing to keep their shape.

Start Shaping. Start training your chosen plant by clearing excess stems from the bottom (particularly if you want a clean, "lollipop" look). If the evergreen is already large and full, you can begin trimming it into the shape you want -- either with a wire frame (pre-made or formed by hand) or by eyeing it up. If working free-hand, start trimming conservatively from the outside inward and take some time to assess the overall look before making cuts. If the plant is new, place a guiding wire frame around it, pruning only sections that are outside the frame. Cultivating a new topiary takes time and patience to bush out and start filling in spaces, so take a long-term view of your project.

Maintain the Topiary. Once your topiary is in place and growing, keep it healthy.with regular fertilizing and protective mulch in cold weather. Check with your local nursery to determine the best time during each year to hard prune your particular species of plant. If the topiary is in a container, make sure the container remains large enough for the plant and that it's level and in good shape. 

Adding a topiary to your yard may be easier than you expect it to be. While it may take some time, it's a project that will add beauty and interest to your space for many years to come.