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How to shape box topiary


Trimming box topiary involves cutting back the fresh new growth of your chosen plant in late spring, to encourage the development of side shoots. These shoots can then be cut in mid summer to create a well-defined surface in whatever shape you wish. This will again cause sideshoots to grow and the plants can be given a final shaping and tidy up if necessary in early autumn.

How to do it


Use secateurs scissors or single-handed shears to cut young topiary or intricate forms. Cut back the young current season's shoots when they have reached 8-10cm long. Cut back to 2 leaves from the base. Avoid cutting into the previous year's older growth.


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.

Our tip

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.

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to shape box topiary
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sianden 24/11/2011 at 15:28

I have a large box hedge that I would like to tunr in to a cockrel - how do I set about it please.

Maximus2 18/05/2012 at 19:04

Be careful - if there is any danger of frost don't cut your box hedges too early otherwise box-blight can set in and you can lose your hedge or topiary.

red john 26/08/2012 at 16:20

I have had some box topiary for some time now and shape them once a year if i want to make them bigger ie bigger balls and shapes do i just let them grow and not trim them for a year or two

backyardee 28/08/2012 at 08:05

 I don't quite know where to start to advise you, but if it were mine, I would first off, check for two main sections, One for the head and the other for the tail.  Work out where half way up the bush is, this is where the head would start splitting away from the back and tail.I would tie one bundle together for one end and then begin on the other creating either the neck which would thin to the head, or the tail. work from the middle out. But please remember that one wrong snip and it will take a long time to rectify. It will take a couple of years before you get the right shape and growth. But it can be done. I tend to start from scratch. I use Lonicera nitida, much quicker growing and I place a new smallish plant inside a wire frame that i have made

 on Lawrencia of the Lawnicus, as I have called him, I used an old rubber gardening glove as added features. 

Pipstrelle 13/06/2013 at 22:46

Backyardee I love Lawrencia! Great fun :D