Box balls among perennials and grasses

How to shape box topiary

Find out how to shape box topiary into distinctive shapes with the help of our advice.

Do it:

May, Jun, Jul, Aug

Takes just:

20 minutes

Box is an incredibly versatile plant that is perfect for trimming into topiary shapes, including balls, spirals and much more.

The best time to trim box topiary is late spring. This will encourage the development of side shoots.

These new shoots can then be cut in midsummer to create a well-defined surface in whatever shape you wish.

This will again cause sideshoots to grow - the plants can be given a final shaping and tidy up if necessary in early autumn.

Always use sharp tools to shape topiary - this will mean that stems are cut cleanly, not crushed.

Here's how to trim box topiary.

You will need

  • Box topiary
  • Sharp secateurs, topiary shears, large scissors or garden shears


Use secateurs, scissors or single-handed shears to cut young topiary or intricate forms. Cut back the young current season's shoots (which are a paler green) when they have reached 8-10cm long. Cut back to two leaves from the base of the new shoot. Avoid cutting into the previous year's older growth, which will be a darker green.

Trim lightly until the basic form is clearly visible - it's easier to trim again rather than cut drastically, ruining the shape. Thicker stems or any parts of the plant that need careful shaping, such as the top of this spiral, should be cut with sharp secateurs.

For box hedges and edgings, trim the new growth using a pair of garden hand shears. For the top, make sure that you keep the blades horizontal to get a level surface. Cut back to a couple of leaves above where the current growth starts.



For complex topiary shapes, it's easier to make the shape out of chicken wire and secure it over the box plant. As soon as the growth pokes through the mesh of wires, clip into shape.

Discover more ideas and inspiration

Related content

How to make a box ball

How to make a topiary chicken

How to trim holly topiary

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