How to make a topiary

I love a good project…..a topiary project.

Actually….I love making a good topiary project and telling you all about it.

If you lived next door…..I would be knocking right now….holding  my coat hanger topiary and a pitcher of sweet tea.

Especially if you were grilling hamburgers.

Topiaries are great accent pieces in your home

It’s not the talking about the project and the pictures and the showing and the telling you all about it that is challenging for me.

It’s the step-by-step instructions.


You see….I’m not really that good at them.


I want to be.


If we had a giant blog yearbook and we could all vote on superlatives, I would want to be voted “Most Likely To Write a Step-By-Step Post.”

You see…..I have pin board after pin board of carefully detailed projects.  Each step photographed, numbered and explained down to the most minute detail by people who know so much more about step-by-step-project writing than I could ever hope to learn if I blogged for the next 500 years.

And when I pull up those projects on the pin boards and start to re-create them….my mind starts wandering… eyes glaze over and I drift off for a  moment to give a silent salute to the brilliant individual responsible for the Picmonkey collage.

I just want jump from the before to the after….with only a nod to the in-between.

And I end up next door eating hamburgers and drinking sweet tea.  🙂

You can make your own topiary quite easily

How to Make a Topiary From a Coat Hanger


(from before to after with a valiant attempt at a lot of in-betweens)

Make your own topiary tree with coat hangers

Step 1:  Find some wire coat hangers.

And some ivy.

Straighten out the curved end of the coat hanger to a point (this is the end you will put into the dirt).

Straighten the curved end of the hanger to put in the dirt

Step 2:  Take coat hanger and stretch the ends into a diamond.

Re-form the diamond into a circle.

Or as close to a circle as you can get.

Don’t worry if it’s not perfect….the ivy will hide all the edges.

BTW….if this were a perfect world….this would be a brown coat hanger.

A real step-by-step person would have thought of that detail before taking all the pictures.

Repeat step 2 to make two circles.

Connect the coat hanger with wire

Step 3:  Wrap green florist twine around the base of the two circles.

Wrap tightly until they are fastened together.

Wrap the wire around the hangers to fasten them together

Step 4:  Twist circles and fasten

Twist the two coat hanger circles until they form a sphere.

Fasten at the top with florist wire.

Remove the questionable leaves as you wrap the vines around the wire

Step 5:  Remove all questionable leaves (as shown in the perfect step-by-step photo).

Put ivy in an urn or other similar container.

Make sure the container is cute.

Unwritten step-by-step rule #146:   Not-cute containers are not allowed in coat hanger topiary projects.

Step 6:   Insert coat hanger into ivy.

Step 7:  Wrap tendrils of ivy around both coat hangers.  Keep wrapping until coat hangers are covered.

Position the topiary in your home to accent


That was a little exhausting.

All that step-by-stepping.

I think it was worth it.

Maybe now……

… topiary and I will make the yearbook. 🙂

PS  Here’s a great tip to keep your ivy extra healthy and growing!

PPS  Sharing this idea over at Kim’s today!

The DIY Style Finder Link


  1. Image for judy judy

    Your topiary would most definitely make my yearbook! And, I would cook hamburgers every day if there was a chance you would show up at my door, with some of your amazing projects. This is one I will definitely attempt. I wish there was a way you could share your humor genes via blogland too. I am still smiling this morning.

  2. Image for Heidi @ Decor & More Heidi @ Decor & More

    Totally trying this project -- GREAT tutorial, Kari!! Quick question -- the baskets on top of your hutch... diys?? Inquiring minds want to know how you achieved that weathered gray finish? xo Heidi

  3. Image for AnnaM AnnaM

    I just love topiaries, and yours is beautiful. I have tried this in the past but I think my ivy was too skimpy. You have inspired me to try again. I'm with you. I start reading a tutorial and eventually just move on to the finished item. Short attention span on my part, super creativity on yours. You rock!

  4. Image for Patty O Patty O

    Love it! Very cute idea...and I'm with you...if only I could be Jeannie on I Dream of Jeannie and close my eyes, blink, nod my head and POOF...project done! Ah well...back to our lowly human capabilities! You do rock the yearbook though - and with much more humor than those boring step-by-step experts!

  5. Image for martha martha

    I had to laugh, my mind glazes over at directions too. Love the ivy topiary. I have tried several times over the years to get one to work inside and they have all died. I have enough ivy in my yard to cover a small country and I am kind of know for my green thumb (outside), but I can't get any to grow inside...oh well....come over for tea and I'll grill hamburgers.

  6. Image for Christy Christy

    I never thought to do this with any live plants. So simple, but so much more interesting than a plain old plant in a pot!! Excellent tutorial:)

  7. Image for Beverly Beverly

    Well, it is morning, but I will grill hamburgers if that is what you want. How about I top the burgers with a fried egg? I love ivy - and ivy topiaries - and you.

  8. Image for Colleen Colleen

    I love how easy you make this look! I might give it a try. I also am wondering about those great baskets on top of your hutch. Did you already do a tutorial about those? I would love to know! Have a happy day!

  9. Image for Donnamae Donnamae

    I've tried to do this one before...didn't turn out as nice as yours. So I was thinking...I'll have the hamburgers bring the topiary! I don't like reading all those instructions either! ;)

  10. Image for bj bj

    I love this topiary ....would love to try my hand at it....thanks for the GREAT, YEAR BOOK WORTHY instructions. Perfect !!

  11. Image for Tanya Tanya

    I have always wanted to make a real ivy topiary! These are great directions, I am so hoping to see you in that yearbook. Btw, my fave step was "make sure the container is cute", love to read your posts! xo, Tanya

  12. Image for cindy the cottage chick cindy the cottage chick

    Now I just need a step-by-step on how to keep ivy (or any other plant) alive. I.kill.plants. The PPS (Plant Protective Services) need to file my address in their files under "most likely to abuse by neglect". It's really sad. I've resorted to plastic plants and flowers, the same way some might be better with dolls instead of real children. Not exactly as cute and perky, but they look good in photos....which would be important in this day of visual media, no? I'm kinda incredulous that I typed all that out loud. Stellar morning, here in NE Indiana. Great tute, btw, done exactly the way my squirrel brain can comprehend.

  13. Image for Polly Polly

    I SO agree with everyone, this is as cute and simple as can be:) You make my mornings smile while I sit here with my cup of real coffee:) Also, wondering about the baskets, did we miss something??

  14. Image for Angela Angela

    OK....I'll have to try this! Live indoor plants usually don't like me but it's been years since I've tried something like this and I think it's time to try again! Now, I have to find some wire hangers as I banned them a few years ago! HA!!! Have a great day!~~Angela

  15. Image for Cynthia Cynthia

    Beautiful job and great can come to NJ and I will make you a hamburger and we can make the topiary together....that would be a fun time. Have a great day! Cynthia

  16. Image for Bethanie Bethanie

    Love this project...but love looking at all your white dishes even more!! We have sister compotes...the one dead center in the the middle of your hutch. Maybe it's not a compote, but either which way, I have the twin! I was in Savannah over the weekend, pulling spanish moss from trees and spraying them with hairspray so I wouldnt have a car full of red bugs when I got home...I was thinking, "this is a Karianne moment"...I knew you would have fun with some good spanish moss!! I've had fun with my garbage bag full of goodness!

  17. Image for Elisabeth Elisabeth

    That is funny, because as soon as I saw your white hangers I was thinking "where did she get those?" In my perfect world, the hangers would be white! So there you have it. I love your blog and your style and your house and everything about you, phew, that sounded like a crush! Oh well!

  18. Image for Regina Merrick Regina Merrick

    This is great! My kind of crafty! :) Remember the 80's comedy, "Newhart"with Bob Newhart? He was a how-to writer, and the running joke was how boring his books were. You do know why, don't you? Nary a mention of earrings, red lipstick, OR sweet tea! You're MY favorite how-to writer! Enjoy the sunshine !!

  19. Image for Gee Gee

    I think a topiary would make a luvly Mother's day gift, no? Thanks for the idea. By the way, you can show up at my door anytime... with or without the topiary. But if you had one, I have the perfect place... we would sit and giggle and sip sweet tea and enjoy the day.... Hugs, Gee

  20. Image for Diane | An Extraordinary Day Diane | An Extraordinary Day

    One comment. That's what my email said. But when I clicked to leave my comment...there were already so very many comments that it took me five minutes to reach the comment box. Whew! That was a lot of work. Now, what was it I wanted to say? Oh. Yeah. I remember. Not really...but I have another thought. I love tutorials! When other people write them. ;) And why is it that every time I post a project I need to write the tutorial? I'm inflicting punishment on myself. Maybe I need some sort of blog therapy. Hmmm. Oh...I actually do remember. I thought you used a white coat hanger because you wanted it to go with the milk glass. Another option....pick up some of that green floral tape at Wally's shop and wrap it around the wire so that it looks like the vine and kind of helps the vine stick a wee bit too. Of course...that would take an hour to do....white looks great. Besides, we can both do another tutorial-less project in an hour. Yes?

  21. Image for Pendra Pendra

    What a beautiful topiary and totally CUTE tutorial!! I would so have to use faux ivy as my thumbs are NOT green but it doesn't stop me from loving them!! We are grilling hamburgers for dinner, will set an extra place...just sayin!!

  22. Image for Dawn Sanchez Dawn Sanchez

    Great idea which came at such an opportune time. I'm looking at those cheapy wire hangers that we collect from the dry cleaners. Now I have a project to do something with them! And like a couple of others have noted, try to figure out how to keep the dang ivy alive long enough to cover the wire. Out of all my plants, ivy has the toughest time hanging on. Faux is starting to have its advantages. ~ Dawn

  23. Image for Gwen Gwen

    I have three comments. #1. I was Yearbook Editor (we even won prized awards against the big big city yearbooks so that makes me almost pro) and I'd definitely work your topiary into a page maybe between the frosh and soph sections?? Or on Prom page??#2 I got a twinge of see as a teacher for open house I always had the kids use a rounded coat hanger and cover with tissue etc to make lady bugs so I've stretched a few hangers in my day...sigh...hard to get past colorful ladybug image dangling down from the ceiling with their colors of any choice and stickers of spots with antennae of pipe cleaners. You'd have wanted to make one if you saw it....#3. I read ALL directions first, so I read how brown hangers would look better and I see the pretty white milk glass container and I'm convinced white hanger looks really good!!! I think it's a pretty idea.

  24. Image for Kathleen Kathleen

    I just bought ivy from Ikea and I have an old small topiary form I bought at a yard sale YEARS ago, hiding somewhere in my garage. I just haven't found the perfect cute container...but I'll keep looking and then I will have the perfect cute topiary! P.S. I agree, tutorials can be exhausting!

  25. Image for Sandi@TheVintage Sandi@TheVintage

    Your topiary is really pretty! I like to make topiary's too but haven't made one with a real live plant. I am inspired to try. Is Ivy the best plant to use for this project? I need something hardy that can survive if I forget to water it for a few days.

  26. Image for Marty@A Stroll Thru Life Marty@A Stroll Thru Life

    I love it, it looks amazing. I just made one using a twig wreath. I think the coat hanger idea is fabulous. I would love for you to link this to my Inspire ME party that is ongoing. Hugs, Marty

  27. Image for Christine Christine

    Hi there! I also like your topiary. I wanted to ask the color of your paint on your walls and upper hutch? It looks gray/green up top, but perhaps where the light hits it directly, a blue/gray? Would you share? Thanks.

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