Would you like a spiral topiary tree to add an artistic or formal touch to your garden? You may already have a tree that you can use in your yard. It’s pretty easy to prune a tree into a spiral topiary yourself. Here are some tips for turning your tree into living garden artwork.
The trees we used for this garden art project are mature Italian Cypress trees that had been kept under six feet—per the home owner’s association rules. They were perfect candidates for practicing how to prune a tree into a spiral topiary! Other trees that are perfect for spiral topiary include Dwarf Alberta Spruce, Green Mountain Boxwood, and Robusta Green Juniper –trees that are columnar or pyramidal.
Materials Needed To Make a Spiral Topiary:
- Rope (string, tape, or even Christmas tree garland will do)
- Clips (clothes line clips, binder clips, bag clips—any type of clip that you have handy)
- Pruning Shears
Step One: Make an Outline for Your Spiral Topiary
Wrap a rope around the tree to form the outline of the spiral (like a candy cane).
You decide how many levels you would like and how far apart you would like them. (We spaced our garland wraps a little over a foot apart—which made four “swirls” for a 6 foot tree.)
Use clips to help keep the rope in place (to prevent the rope from moving around when you later make the pruning cuts).
Step Two: Cut the Spiral for Your Topiary
Use pruning shears to make cuts above the rope. When you make a cut, clear a couple of inches above the rope, all the way to the trunk of the tree. If you’re working with a mature tree, you may have multiple trunks in the center of the tree. You probably want to keep most of the trunks in place—just clear the leaves and small branches off of them. Make your cuts and follow all the way up the rope.
Step Three: Trim Your Spiral Topiary
After you have the main spiral in place, you can remove the rope and then trim the tree to make it look tidy. You may want to widen the cuts, round the edges of the “swirls,” make the bottom wider than the top—whatever you need to make the spiral topiary look just right.
If your tree doesn’t look “professional,” don’t worry. Although the process is easy, making a spiral topiary tree look really good takes practice. You can trim and perfect it as it grows. (You can even let the entire plant grow back to its original form if your garden art project turns out really bad.)
by Shannon Mendez