What Kind of Tool Is Needed to Make Topiary?

Written by crystal vogt
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What Kind of Tool Is Needed to Make Topiary?
A complex topiary often uses a metal frame hidden inside the plant to maintain its shape. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

A topiary is a shaped shrub or tree. Topiary styles can be small and simple, or large and complicated. Traditional topiaries consist of boxwood, yew, climbing hydrangea, fleece vine and cypress, but you can make smaller topiaries with herbs such as rosemary. Depending on the shape and size of your topiary, you need different tools to ensure proper shaping, but all should feel comfortable to work with for extended periods of time.

Topiary Shears

Topiary shears are some of the most common tools used for topiary shaping. They consist of two scissor-like blades, each attached at the outer edge to a separate handle. These two handles join at the bottom with a piece of heart-shaped metal that allows the blades to come together when you press the handles together.ne another. According to garden retailer Aston-Simms, the topiary shear design was taken from sheep shears, which allow users to clip large, flat surfaces easily. Topiary shears come in different sizes and are effective for large and small topiaries.

Metal Frames

Traditional topiaries are often shaped like tall cones, but if you want to get creative, purchase a metal frame in your desired shape. The metal frame acts like a skeleton for your plant, which will grow up the frame until the metal until it completely envelopes the frame and it's invisible to the naked eye. The frame then acts as a guide for when you trim the plant and maintain its shape. Metal frames come in a variety of shapes, including animals, fish, spirals, alphabet letters and humans.


Precise manual tools, such as secateurs, work well for small projects and give you more control over complex, intricate designs. Secateurs, also known as pruners, are made up of two short yet stout blades that are spring-loaded where they meet two metal individual handles. These handles are usually covered with rubber, which allows the user to grip them for extended periods of time while making precise, accurate cuts.

Mechanical Shears

For very large topiaries, mechanical shears work well for trimming. These shears can come in gas- or electric-powered form, and usually consist of a handle that houses a small motor, which rapidly propels a long metal rod in short movements from side to side. This metal rod has blades welded all around its exposed perimeter. Depending on how high your topiary is, you may need to do some work with your mechanical shears from a ladder. Be careful when working with heavy, sharp machinery from a height.

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