7 Topiary Tree Design Ideas

Topiary tree is the art of training a tree into a position it would not naturally grow into. This can be achieved by using wires, ropes and shears. The key is to begin the process at the very early stages of growth so you can make any design you want.

Animal Heads

Trees that leaf prolifically are often used to create animal or human heads. Privet is a very popular tree for this. Sometimes a basic tree can be shaped and then a plant like ivy or convolvulus is encouraged to spread through it to fill out the design and add the colors associated with the flowers. A topiary garden with a hedge that is a line of the heads of different animals is just one creative idea.


Theme parks and children’s parks often have pieces of topiary that represent the current heroes of the small screen. Railway engines, helicopters and other such machines are crafted out of trees and shrubs.

Abstract Designs

Many topiarists like to use their art to produce abstract images that create a challenge for the visitor. A very effective design is to use privet to create a block apparently split by a flagpole with each side of the block peeling back. Geometric shapes on adjacent branches are also effective, especially if there is a lot of movement.

Cartoon Characters

Many topiary trees end up looking like Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck. With care and attention to detail a topiary garden can be populated by a whole book full of characters. Somewhere, after a careful or propitious planting, there is a garden with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Functional Objects

Although the batons and mechanism will not be made from trees, many topiary gardens contain at least one grandfather clock. Canopies made from densely concentrated trees can be rain proof long enough for visitors to get indoors. Tables and benches can be created using the art of topiary and they seem to be able to take the unusual use with little bother. Although trees naturally give shade, it is often surprising to see umbrellas fashioned out of tall trees.  

Strictly Functional

Although not always acknowledged as a result of topiary, many orchards have the trees at such an angle to the ground that an average height person is able to pick the fruit when the season is right. This is done in exactly the same way that a horses head is created from a privet hedge – using cables and wires to prevent the trees assuming their natural state.

Highly Decorative

A very popular form of topiary is available whereby four or five similar straight stemmed trees are grown together under poor lighting conditions. The trees grow much faster trying to reach light. The stems they produce are very weak and the nurseries plait the stems together to produce a living trellis work. After several months the tree stems are brought into the light when they grow stronger and meld into each other.

There are few limits to what can be created from a growing tree as long as you know what you are doing and start early enough.