arborist shaping a shrub in edmonton

Topiary Art: Things to Know about Shaping Trees and Shrubs

A type of living sculpture, topiary is an art form that involves training plants to develop and maintain clearly defined ornamental shapes

These organic figures might resemble abstract geometric forms, various types of animals, humanlike characters or particular kinds of objects. Hedges are a very simple type of topiary. Nearly anyone can learn the shrub and tree clipping and pruning practices that result in stunning topiary, though a skilled arborist can also be hired for this purpose. In Edmonton, Leduc or surrounding areas, All Season Tree Service can help you with all your shrub and tree maintenance. 


Topiary plants

For a traditional topiary project, the first step is to select a shrub or tree. Usually, evergreens with dense foliage are used. Typical species used for topiary include:

  • Boxwood
  • Holly
  • Bay laurel
  • Privet
  • Yew
  • Arborvitae
  • Myrtle
  • Alberta spruce

To make things easy on yourself, choose an evergreen that already approximates the shape you want to end up with. For example, get a taller plant with a straight central trunk if you want a ball-on-stem, a cone, a pyramid, a spiral or other vertically interesting figure. A rectangular-shaped evergreen would work for a wide animal, a hedge wall or other horizontally engaging feature. Round shrubs work well for sphere-shaped topiary.


Topiary tools

Shears are the primary tool of any topiarist. There are four types that are useful to have on hand.

  • Snips. Small pruners that resemble scissors.

  • Secateurs. This type of pruner has a blade on one side and a dull flat surface on the other, making it easy to trim on one side of a branch. 

  • Small blade pruning shears. For precise cutting and detailing.

  • Hedge shears. For general shaping. 

In addition, many who create topiary find it useful to work with frames. These devices allow for precise cutting and pruning. You can purchase frames or make your own out of chicken wire. A steady hand and a good eye are generally all that are required for simple geometric forms. 


Topiary Maintenance

Topiary works require ongoing upkeep, especially in the initial phase of developing the desired shape. Every three months, the shrub or tree should be pruned to uphold the form. Bald or thin patches, in particular, should be clipped back, as doing so will stimulate denser growth. Using organic fertilizers can further enhance plant development and is thereby recommended. 


When to hire an arborist for shrub and tree pruning

Not everyone in Edmonton and surrounding areas has the tools, stamina, or time to invest in tree and shrub maintenance. If you need help maintaining your trees and shrubs, topiary or otherwise, contact us at All Season Tree Service.

Since 1992 we’ve provided property owners with a complete range of arboreal services, including tree and shrub pruning and shaping, disease consultation, and tree removal.

Simply let us know how our tree experts can help!