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Renovating box topiary

I'm here again asking for advice!

A client of several years has, ever since I have been doing the garden mis-shapen box balls and cones around the garden. She has decided she wants them all a uniform size and shape as when they bought the house 10 years ago.

I was thinking a route may be to feed them (I know it's a bit late to do this), but I doubt anyone has fed them for years. Then cut some plywood templates and start work to bring them back into line. Warning the client that even if she employs the best topiary expert in the country to they will not be able to instantly make them perfect.

Do any of you have any other, better ideas?



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  • Do it in spring, there's a chance that the new leaves and opens cuts could be damage by on coming frost and cause die back. Box renovation works well. Ply template sounds good, but I wonder if that would be a bit of a faft. Wooden posts, string and a boat level. Personally I use a tape measure and by eye. 

  • PRO

    Hi Adam,

    Have a look at James Todman (Topiarist) if you have nit come across him before on Facebook/Twitter/instagram or his website he sometimes has useful videos and guides put up if you scroll back overt be years. I’m sure I’ve seen ply templates before providing a guide and can be used year after year once made, also I’m sure he always starts trimming from the bottom up on balls and a lot by eye, string, levels on straights  


  • I would trim and add a a slow release  feed on the box in the spring myself. Use clean and sharp topiary shears when you carry out the job. I think using a template would be good to ensure continuity. Give it a foliar feed (Maxi Crop or Uncle Tom's Plant Tonic) late summer after trimming it.


  • PRO

    We have done this, never now but in the spring, the balls we used a stick with a tape line on it working off the centre stem back to a framework, then feed them, manure mulch plus seaweed seemed to work, if the client has slightly deeper pockets top buxus and by the end of summer most have covered over

  • PRO

    Thank you everyone... 

    I mostly want to be sure that I am telling the client the right thing....and they don't get some "expert" in saying "yes do the major prune in Sept/Oct ".

    Thank you all....and Top Buxus is winging its way from Amazon as I write 😊

  • PRO

    My instinct is to say to do it in Spring, as in general that's when "they" tend to advise doing rejuvination pruning, just as the plant is starting to grow, so it can deal with the hard pruning, however I would have thought that if you was to do it now, any new growth would have time to harden off befor the frosts come and the dreaded Box blight comes visiting. My only concern about using templates for the pruning is sometimes what is absolutely uniform, measurement wise, cold actually look off to the human eye, so I would personally just do it by eye, and keep on top of managing client expectations, as you are doing.

    • PRO

      Thank you Mark....I agree. This is 50% getting the bushes looking as they want and 50% getting some spoilt London weekend owning homeowners happy....as in managing their expectations.

      I think your ideas are right......as are the others who have commented.

      Somewhere I have pics of the garden when I took it on...I need to dig those out to show them that the bushes were in a bad shape then.....then I think we will be able to go forward 😊

  • PRO Supplier

    The main danger to have in your mind is Box blight - I would feed early in spring with a slow release then do the pruning when the major danger of BB has passsed, eg: the  wet/ warm weather has passed - then more feed & seaweed spray to boost grow back and vitality. The traditional day for box trimming is Derby Day - June 5th

    • It used to be Darby day but I thought the thinking now is August trimming , when all the new growth has fully hardened off??, I could be wrong mind. I would also reccomend  hand sheers for the work, ARS make exceptionally light tools for this job, and disinfecting the shears from plant to plant to stop the spread of possible disease (BB). What shapes are they, and what are the varying sizes to be corrected??

      • PRO

        I trimmed some box in June but it needs doing again due to so much rainfall .

        soft bushy growth normally could leave it until next year but property is up for sale and looks untidy .

        debated trimming this last week and have decided to trim back to the hard growth this week .

        Also privet have had to cut back four times this year and needs trimming again .




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