Pruning Trees + Shrubs Series: Trimming Topiaries
The #1 question I’m asked about a topiary – “Is it hard to maintain them?” The answer is not at all IF you don’t let it grow too much before giving it a trim.
Let’s talk Juniper topiaries – spirals, pom-poms, poodles and patio trees. Since Junipers grow so slowly they are perfect for topiary designs. Under normal conditions 2 trimmings per year will keep a Juniper topiary looking neat.
Examine your topiary.
Look for the original shape of the topiary and decide how much of the new growth needs to be cut off. Do you want to trim the plant back to its original size and remove all new growth? Would you like to increase the plants size? If so, you will cut off less of the new growth but follow the pattern of the original shape.
Get to trimming
Start trimming your Juniper topiary from the top down. Until you become comfortable with your cutting ability start with a light trim in a small section. “More is not better“ when learning to trim. It’s better to trim less and cut a second time to attain the look you envision rather than to cut too much off. Once you’re satisfied then trim the same amount off the rest of the plant.
If you accidentally cut too much, don’t worry. Trimming a plant causes new growth to occur so it will fill in quickly. Just like a not so good haircut – it grows out and you fix it.
What to trim with
I prefer using a bypass hand pruner or handheld clipping shears – with sharp blades. Hedge trimmers or hedge shears are difficult to maneuver and make it difficult to cut properly from all angles.
Other topiary plants (except pines)
The same techniques will work on other species of plants used as topiaries. Boxwood, Ligustrum, Fig Ivy, Rosemary, Holly, etc. Keep your trimmers sharp, follow the lines of the original topiary shape, start at the top and work your way down and you can successfully trim any topiary.