How Do I Trim Shrubs Into Perfect Circles?


Shrubs that are cut into shapes, such as circles, are called topiaries. Topiaries provide a more formal, polished appearance to a landscape. Shaping a shrub into a perfect circle is challenging, although it is much easier than creating other topiary shapes. Although you can cut and train almost any shrub to grow into a perfect circle, starting when the plant is young will achieve the best results. Over time, the shrub will start to grow in the circular pattern on its own. You can cut a shrub into a circle on the vertical plane or the horizontal plane.

Things You'll Need

  • Long-handled shears
  • Galvanized wire
  • Large tree trunk
  • Topiary shears
  • Ladder
  • Select a shrub that is already in a somewhat circular shape. The shrub does not have to be a circle, but do not choose a tall thin shrub and try to trim it into a circle.

  • Holding one handle of the long-handled shears in each hand, trim away the outer limbs of the shrub to create a basic circle shape. The shape will be very rough, which is fine. You can create a vertical circular shape, or a horizontal circular shape.

  • Wrap a piece of galvanized wire around a large round object, such as a tree trunk, to create a circle. The length of the wire depends on the size of circle you want to create from your shrub.

  • Hold the circle in front of your face, at arm's length. Stand back so that you are approximately three to four feet away from the shrub. Look through the wire and identify any limbs that are growing outside the wire circle. All of the limbs outside the circle must be trimmed. If you are creating a horizontal circle, place a ladder next to the shrub and climb up to the top. Use the wire circle from overhead as a guide to determine which parts of the shrub to trim away.

  • Trim all of the limbs that you identified, using the topiary shears Cut off only the tips of these limbs so that they fit within the circular shape. Continue trimming the limbs until the desired shape is achieved.

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  • Photo Credit front lawn image by Tracy Horning from
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