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Topiary: master class and instructions for curly bush cutting (70 photos)

For the design of public parks and territories of private residential buildings, designers sometimes use interesting green sculptures – topiary figures. Usually this word means curly bush cutting. Often the figures are created by experienced gardeners for more than one year.

The art of topiary appeared in ancient Rome, where unusual figures decorated the gardens of the richest people. There were whole schools of gardeners who knew the secrets of curly shearing of plants. With the spread of the influence of Rome, topiary art went further and further, sculptures of plants appeared outside the Roman Empire.

In Russia , the fashion for green sculptures came from France during the reign of Peter I. Since then, topiary has been gaining more and more popularity with its elegance and external nobility.

To create figures from plants, several techniques are used that differ in the technique of forming the shape of the plant:

  • Classic
  • Frame
  • Frame with filler
  • Topiary of a climbing plant
  • Arbosculpture

The classical or traditional method has been used for several thousand years and has not undergone fundamental changes. It consists in the curly pruning of adult bushes of plants.

For beginners in gardening, it is best to start learning from the formation of simple geometric shapes – balls, cubes, cylinders. Creating complex figures of people or animals is hard work, which can take more than 5 years.

At the same time, with improper pruning, you can not only spoil the appearance of the plant, but also completely destroy it, so it is better to entrust this matter to professionals.

Only plants with small leaves or needles are suitable for such pruning. The plant should be frost-resistant and not have a tendency to rapid growth. It is best to use yew, olive, barberry, tuya, cypress or spruce.

To form a figure, you must have a mandatory set of tools:

  • Brush cutter
  • Garden Shears
  • Garden Saw
  • Altimeter
  • Stirrup
  • Wooden rails and ropes for guides
  • Paint or chalk for marking contours

Keep an eye on the condition of your pruning tools — their edges should be perfectly sharp, the only way to achieve even plant shapes. The formation of crowns is best done in late winter or early spring.

The frame technique consists in limiting the growth of the plant with the help of a special metal frame. Usually the wire form is "put on" on a young, growing shrub. The branches of the plant begin to fill in the form, acquiring the desired shape.

A haircut for such a figure is required only if the shoots go beyond the frame. After the complete formation of the plant, the wire mold can be removed and reused.

Plants grown in this technique do not differ at all from classic topiary, but require much less effort for their design.

The frame for the topiary can be bought in special large stores, or you can create it yourself.

To create a large street sculpture, it is necessary to purchase a steel wire with a cross section of 6-7 mm. You can fasten the components of the frame with a thin wire or use welding. The finished frame should be braided with a wire mesh with cells no more than 1 cm.

To make a small frame, you can use a thin wire, which weaves an object of the desired shape (a ball, a large soft toy, an animal figurine). After that, you need to carefully cut the wire and remove the manufactured frame.

Weeping willow, pinnate hawthorn, common juniper and Alpine currant are well suited for this technique.

A kind of frame technique is a frame technique using filler. To create such a topiary in the garden with your own hands is the simplest and easiest option, not inferior to the beauty of other types of plant processing.

For this technology, a factory or homemade frame is also used, which is filled with a homemade substrate or specially purchased land for the plants you have chosen. Perennial or annual flowers are planted in this substrate. Such a product is more a volumetric flowerbed than a topiary.

To make a substrate for planting plants, it is necessary to mix a nutrient mixture and soil, which includes leafy earth, turf and the upper peat layer. Straw is added to the resulting mixture to prevent it from spilling through the cells of the structure.

Also, instead of peat, you can fill the frame with sphagnum moss. At this point, all work with the figure is over — moss will quickly fill the entire space of the figure in the process of growth and will close the frame.

Making a topiary from a climbing plant is also easy. It uses an established metal form of any climbing plants that will quickly entwine the figure (ivy, ipomoea, dichondra). Unfortunately, in our harsh climate, such figures are short-lived and can please owners for only one season.

Arbosculpture can be classified as green figures, but it is fundamentally different from the previous examples of manufacturing technology. In this case, manipulations are performed not with the crown of the plant, but with its trunk. The photos of these topiary are simply amazing. Furniture, patterns, and real sculptures are created from trees.

Arbosculpture is a very complex design technique. It can take up to 10 years of painstaking work to design one plant. It uses plants that can grow together and quickly increase the woody layer (willow, maple, apple, cherry, hornbeam, cherry and birch).

Arbosculpture is based on the ability of tree branches to grow together. This effect can be achieved by tightly connecting young, flexible trunks of seedlings, intertwining shoots and grafting new shoots to the plant. To maintain the desired shape, the branches are tightly secured with rubber bundles or thin wire.

The main thing is to make sure that the screeds do not damage the bark of the tree and do not grow into the wood. For the manufacture of "living furniture", you can even use self-tapping screws for a tighter connection of branches to each other.


Topiary sculptures are very demanding in care. They do not tolerate shady places for planting and require frequent mineral fertilizing.

Watering of plants should be carried out at least 2 times a week, while drip irrigation can be organized for frame sculptures with filler.

When pruning plants, it is necessary to move from top to bottom, leaving 3-4 buds on each branch. Otherwise, the plant will wither quickly.

In winter, plants are in dire need of shelter – temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius can destroy the fruit of many years of effort. It is best to sprinkle the ground around the trunk with large sawdust and wrap the crown and trunk with several layers of matting.


Topiary art is not always as complex and time-consuming as it seems at first glance. A little imagination and free time will help you create an unusual, beautiful garden plot.

Photo topiary