1. Home
Send to a Friend via Email

Topiary Shrubs and Hedges

Do you have an artistic streak in you? Then you may well wish to include hedges in your landscape or even sculpt topiary shrubs. The articles below will supply you with tips, ranging from appropriate shrubs to a video that actually shows you how to make a topiary. But first, we will look at how to plant and trim hedges correctly.

How to Plant Hedges
This step-by-step tutorial walks you through the steps in planting hedges. Through pictures I show you how to plant a row of boxwoods. Incidentally, if you like the look of hedges but are concerned that the maintenance would be way too much for you, note that I grow a boxwood hedge in my own landscaping and trim it only 2 or 3 times per year.

How to Trim Hedges
You've just bought some boxwood or other shrubs, and you're wondering how to trim hedges? Trimming is easy if you start when they are young. I show you how to do the job, step by step, in this tutorial, with pictures. Proper trimming requires organization and patience.

Shrubs for Hedge Plants
What are some of the better choices amongst shrubs to create a hedge? That is the subject of this article. Follow the links within the article for detailed information on growing the particular types of bushes discussed. I supply examples of deciduous, broadleaf-evergreen and needled evergreen bushes that work well.

"Living Wall" Privacy Fences
There's more than one way to make your yard more private. First decide if you want a movable privacy screen or something more permanent. If the latter, fencing is one choice, along with other hardscape features. If you wish to go with plant material, you will have to decide between a formal or an informal hedge; I focus on the latter here.

Privet Hedges
Privet hedges (Ligustrum) are traditional favorites along a border, being amenable to pruning, tolerant of street pollution and not fussy about soil pH. Privets are also used as topiary shrubs, as I noted when I visited Green Animals in Rhode Island, a veritable farm of topiary shrubs sculpted into all sorts of animal shapes.

Japanese and English Yews
Yews are highly "yewsful" in the landscape. Some people spurn them as being overused, but they're popular for a reason: they are tough bushes that tolerate shade and shearing. Yews are a logical choice in an evergreen for the north side of a home, for example. But they are also good hedge or topiary shrubs. Learn about some of the great types that are available.

Chinese Juniper Shrubs – Blue Pfitzer, the Pom-Pom Bush
Commonly employed as topiary shrubs, you may think of Blue Pfitzer Chinese junipers as "those pom pom bushes," so frequently do they appear in landscaping as an arrangement of green balls at the ends of sticks, thanks to shearing.

Dwarf English Boxwood Shrubs
The hedge in my own landscaping is comprised of Korean boxwood shrubs. I chose them for two reasons: they are hardy (I'm in zone 5) and they stay compact. Another dwarf boxwood is the English type, the very mention of which makes me picture a perfectly even boxwood hedge running through a garden on an English estate.

"Hemlock" means different things to different people. A history buff will recall the type of hemlock that the Greek philosopher, Socrates drank -- and died from. Hikers may think of the huge trees known as "Canadian" hemlocks. But there are cultivars more suited to the landscape that can be used in hedges.

Holly Shrubs in History, Landscaping
Do you want a hedge that will function, in part, as a living security fence? If so, you may want a shrub that sports thorns or prickly leaves. Some types of holly bear very prickly leaves; it would not be pleasant for intruders to try to force their way through them.

Japanese Barberry Shrubs
Japanese barberry is another intruder-unfriendly shrub. This deciduous bush bristles with thorns that puncture the skin of the unwary. Barberry has, consequently, been a traditional favorite in hedges. You can now buy plants that boast more than just red berries (in terms of looks), including barberry shrubs with purple or yellow foliage.

Review: Cordless Hedge Trimmers
OK, let us say that you are sold on the idea of growing hedges or topiary shrubs. Maybe you are seeking information now about the equipment to have on hand to trim your plants with ease. Personally, I use a cordless trimmer, and I'm quite happy with it. This tool provides me with both power and maneuverability, and it has never given me any problems.

How to Prune Topiary Shrubs
Some gardeners prefer the natural look; topiary shrubs are not for them. But the contrarian in me protests, "If you really want 'natural,' do nothing and let your land revert back to woodland or prairie." My view is that, by definition, landscaping is not supposed to be "natural," rather, we are molding our properties according to an ideal image we have formulated. If you agree, then you may be interested in this video illustrating the proper way to shape shrubs into topiary creations.

Pruning Bushes Into Animal Shapes - The Art of Topiary
"Green Animals is one of America's oldest topiary gardens, and it remains one of the most notable gardens of its type in the country," writes Kim Knox Beckius, About's Guide to New England for Visitors, concerning the "Green Animals" topiary gardens in Rhode Island. I have visited this garden, myself. Privet, yews and boxwoods are used for the topiaries.

How to Get a Straight, Clean Edge When Pruning a Hedge Shrub
Formal hedges demand straight, clean edges. "But just how do folks ever manage to get such a clean edge?" perhaps you ask. Well, the trick is in the preparation, before you even begin pruning. You'll need to take accurate measurements and frame the cutting area. In the video to which this site links, you'll watch a pro laying out stakes and string for trimming some boxwood shrubs.

How to Prune Hedges
The University of Arizona Extension offers this guide to pruning hedges. Both deciduous and evergreen hedges are included. They discuss pruning roses, shade trees, vines and ground covers, as well, with illustrations provided to clarify the instructions.

Discuss in my forum

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.