Topiary & More!


Buxus Sempervirens (Box)

Box topiary has been used in many gardens for centuries. It is the most commonly used plant for small hedges, Topiary shapes & Knot gardens. Box is a tough old plant that will grow in moist, well drained soils. Feed well during the growing season (May to September) using a slow release fertilizer in the spring and liquid fertilizer in late spring through to early autumn. Trim back in early May and again in late August. Water well in dry periods as they don’t like to dry out too much. If growing in containers then its best to use a soil based compost like John Innes No. 3.

Never let the pot dry out but don’t over water. Feed with a liquid feed every two weeks to help keep the foliage nice and healthy. Try to keep the plants in an area which has plenty of air movement and also keep away from dripping rain water (overflows from gutters etc). If planted in containers then good practice would be to cover them up in winter to prevent prolonged exposure to frost (if the pot becomes frozen the plants can suffer from desiccation)

Various shapes and sizes of Box topiary are available to buy at our Nursery!

Taxus Baccata (Yew)

Taxus (Yew) has been used like Box for centuries to create unique and spectacular Topiary shapes and hedges. Yew is another plant which is as tough as old boots and will respond well to even the most severest pruning. Yew can either be trimmed closely to create wonderful Topiary shapes or simply plated in a line and grown into a hedge. Yew will tolerate most soils as long as they are not prone to waterlogging. Top dress Yew plants in spring with a slow release fertilizer and continue to foliar feed throughout the summer. Yew should be clipped later in August/September.


Prunus Lusitanica (Portuguese Laurel)

Portuguese laurel is another good plant to use for Topiary. It responds well to pruning and will give a very good, thick hedge. Will tolerate most soils (except poorly drained) and required little care, just a top dress of slow release fertilizer in late spring. Trim in late May or early June and you’ll usually get another flush of growth in late July. Try not to induce too much soft growth later in the year as this can be prone to early frost damage and will look unsightly.
Photinia Red Robin

Photinia is best used as an evergreen hedging plant but it can also be used for creating topiary shapes. Photinia will provide a colourful hedge for 12 months of the year adding a splash of colour in the early spring and summer as the new leaves are bright red. White flowers appear in early summer which is an added bonus!

Will tolerate most soils (avoid waterlogging) and requires trimming twice to three times a year to keep in good shape.

Laurus Nobilis (Bay)

Bay trees are another common plant used for topiary shapes. Commonly seen either side of a front door as standards (ball on a stem) or large bushes in established gardens. As bay is a much used culinary herb it provides a use in the kitchen too! Although generally Bay is seen to be a hardy plant, it will suffer in the most severe winters. Try to plant Bay in containers close to the house so as to provide shelter in the winter, especially from cold, drying winds from the east (The Beast from the East). Water well in the summer and feed once a month with a liquid feed. Top dress in late spring with a slow release fertilizer. Trim Bay carefully with secateurs and try not to cut through the leaves too much as the ends can become dry and look unsightly.



Cleanliness is next to Godliness!

You need to take great care when trimming your prized topiary or hedging. Dirty & blunt hedge trimmers can do a lot of damage to your plants. Always ensure that the hedge trimmers you are using are spotlessly clean and razor sharp before using. Clean trimmers before and after use to minimise the risk of spreading disease. Sharp blades will ensure a good clean cut. Blunt blades will crush rather than cut stems which will cause bruising and look unsightly.

If using a contractor or local gardener to trim your topiary or hedges, chances are that the equipment they use will be dirty or have been used to trim other hedges. Talk to your gardener to make sure the equipment they use is clean and sharp. Clean all trimmings up after pruning and knock the hedge with the rake or a broom to loosen clippings trapped in the hedge. Clean out the bottom of the hedge to avoid excessive build up of old clipping and leaves which could harbour pest and diseases.

I’m hungry, so feed me NOW!

Hopefully, your topiary will be around a few years so to keep it looking sharp then you’ll need to feed it on a regular basis. Feeding the plants not only helps them look good but it also makes them feel good too! Healthy plants have a better resistance to pests and disease. Use a good slow release fertilizer to top dress in spring and a liquid feed during the growing season. Don’t feed after the end of September as this may encourage new growth which will be damaged by early frosts and look unsightly. As always please follow the label recommendations when applying fertilizers and never be tempted to over apply as this will have the reverse affect on the plant.


A crucial part of keeping your topiary looking good is getting the right amount of water to it at the right time of the year. Once established, topiary planted in the garden soil will usually fend for itself. You’ll usually only need to water them in long dry periods, once or twice a week is fine. For new planted topiary then more careful monitoring will be required and in drier weeks they’ll need watering every other day. For topiary planted in containers, it is essential that you keep them well watered throughout the year. Even in winter, topiary in pots will need to be kept moist as hard frosts can freeze the roots and prevent it from taking up moisture.

One of the most common causes of plant fatalities during winter is ‘drying out’. This is where a plant cannot take up moisture through the roots due to being frozen and then the plant being exposed to cold, drying winds which slowly desiccate the plant. The plant loses moisture from the leaves but is unable to take moisture up. To help prevent this, keep plants watered but not over watered and if practicable move the plants into a more sheltered spot. Please bare in mind that during winter the plant will not be growing so you need only keep the pot moist and not overflowing with water. Top tip for topiary in containers? Simple, don’t let them dry out!




We have lots of advice on getting the best out of your topiary, so if you have any questions or require further information then please use the following link to contact us. We will be happy to help!