Topiary, or training and clipping plants and shrubs can be as basic or as complex as you want it to be. It is not at all difficult to find suitable plants for topiary and, as you will learn from this beginner’s guide, with the right equipment anyone can start trimming shrubs and clipping hedging plants into different styles of topiary. The art of clipping shrubs and trees into ornamental shapes are a way of decorating one’s yard, garden, attraction, or business, and it makes quite an impression.

There are three main types of topiary:

  • Traditional
  • Sphagnum
  • Trained Ivy

Traditional Topiary Designs

Traditional topiary designs take on freestanding shrubs and trees using both larger more permanent structures or smaller shrubs for smaller gardens or spaces. Traditional topiary is ideal for highlighting features such as stonework, flowers, and fountains and other features of your garden.

There are one or two options for perfecting traditional topiary and if you are green-fingered inclined you can clip freehand, or you can use frames to train the stems of younger trees or plants.

Sphagnum Topiary

To achieve a topiary project in just a few months, you could opt for the sphagnum style of topiary in which gardeners will prune their plants to grow out of sphagnum moss-filled frames using creeping plants. The effect of sphagnum style topiary can be applied both outdoors and indoors for centrepieces or tabletop decorations.

Trained Ivy Topiary

Ivy topiary is ideal for people who have the space to fill, but not the time. Ivy can be an aggressive trailing plant, making it ideal for most surfaces as it will cling on to most things that it comes into contact with. That could be walls, frames, decorative structures, and many more. It can work well in small spaces as it will adapt to smaller potted plants – ideal to brighten up the office or study.

It is also great for small spaces, as ivy can grow on very small potted plants that one can place in offices or in the home. This type of topiary is very popular, and is a great start for those who wish to become topiary hobbyists.

While the difficult and time-consuming part of topiary is designing and creating the artwork, maintenance still must be done to keep the shapes and designs looking great rather than overgrown or shabby.

Many plants used to create traditional and sphagnum topiary require clipping annually to retain their shapes, with spring being the best time to take care of it. Ivy requires training rather than trimming or clipping, and is the easiest of the topiaries for a beginner to start with.