How To Shape A Conifer Tree Into A Spiral [Step-By-Step Guide]

Would you like to know how to shape a conifer tree into a spiral? Well, we have researched this topic and have answers for you. Understanding how to shape a conifer tree into a spiral is vital to ensure it looks good and doesn't damage the tree.

To shape a conifer tree into a spiral, decide how steep you want the angle of the twists, which will determine how wide each twist will be.

Next, start cutting away branches that aren't part of the spiral in a circular motion around the tree from bottom to top.

You can always remove more branches but can't reattach them, so work cautiously and step back to check your progress often.

This article will teach you how to shape a conifer tree into a spiral. We will also learn the answers to other interesting related questions, such as how do you shape a conifer tree into different shapes, and how often should you touch up a shaped conifer tree? Keep reading to learn more.

landscaping-conifers-mix-trees-shrubs, How To Shape A Conifer Tree Into A Spiral [Step By Step Guide]

How To Shape A Conifer Tree Into A Spiral [Step-By-Step Guide]

When shaping a conifer tree into a spiral, it's essential to take your time and ensure accurate cuts. Let's look at a step-by-step guide on how to shape a conifer tree into a spiral.

1. Deciding The Angle


The first step to shaping a conifer tree into a spiral is deciding the angle of your twists. Something to consider is that the width of the tree affects the ratio between the angle of your spiral and its width.

When the conifer is narrow, the distance around the tree's circumference will be shorter, so the spiral will have less space to travel up the tree.

For slim trees, you will need to use sharper angles to ensure that the spirals aren't too narrow. When the conifer is wider, the longer circumference allows the spiral to twist up faster, so narrower angles can be used while maintaining large twists.

2. Deciding The Shape


Once you have decided on the angle that you think will look best, you need to determine how sharp the spiral's curve should be. The sharper you curve the spiral towards the tree's trunk, the narrower the spiral ridges will be.

If you are looking for a thick spiral with merely a groove rotating around the tree, cut the spiral's curve at a narrow angle and keep a set distance from the tree's truck. For sharper twists, use a sharp curve and cut to the trunk.

3. Cutting Out The Spiral

Spiral tree topiary landscaping on the park garden

Now that you know where the spiral will be and its basic shape, you can start cutting away branches that aren't part of the spiral. It's best to begin cutting slightly above where you know the spiral needs to be and gradually rounding out the spiral.

Since you can't reattach anything you cut, it's best to remove plant material slowly and step back often to see how it's progressing. When cutting the spiral, you are too close to the tree to see the whole thing, so stepping back allows you to know if you are drifting and make adjustments.

If cutting the tree into a spiral will remove most of the green material and expose a lot of brown branches, then you should cut the spiral more shallowly and shape the tree over a few years to preserve its health.

How Do You Shape A Conifer Tree Into Different Shapes?

There are many different shapes that you can shape a conifer tree into. Here is a guide on how to shape a conifer tree into some of the most popular shapes.

Cone Top

When cutting a cone on the top of a conifer tree, it's crucial to keep the cone symmetrical and its bottom edge flat. Start by visualizing the cone and deciding which branches need to be cut away.

Once you know which parts of the tree to remove, start cutting away branches that aren't part of the cone. Start from the top and work your way around and down. Step back often to check that the cone isn't lopsided.

When you reach where you want the base of the cone, remove branches from the tree's trunk. Keep removing branches down the trunk as far as you want.

There will also be small branches that hang down on the underside of the cone that will need to be cut. Once you have cleaned up the edges of the cone, you are finished pruning.


When cutting a cube in a conifer tree, it's crucial to choose how big you want your cube and where. If you want a cube too large for the conifer tree, you will need to cut it so that its corners are outside the edge of the tree and allow them to fill in over time.

Once you know where you want your cube and how big you want it, it's time time to remove branches. To make the cube look good, the sides of the cube must be cut as straight as possible.

If, when cutting the side of the cube, you find that it'll remove most of the green material on that side and leave it brown, then don't cut as deep. You will need to cut the side of the cube more shallowly and finish with a follow-up cutting a few months later.

It is also possible to cut a cube tilted at an angle. When cutting out angled cubes, it helps to ensure that opposite sides of the cube are parrel with each other.


To shape a conifer tree into platforms, you need to decide how tall each platform should be and how much space should be between platforms. Once you have decided where you want your platforms, begin cutting away foliage between where the platforms should be.

It is also good to clean up the edges of each platform to give them more definition. There are many ways to implement platforms on a conifer tree, so be creative and find a look that works best for you.

Round Balls

Cutting round balls into conifer trees can be done by choosing where you want each ball and how large they should be. Next, cut away foliage on each ball to help round them. To easily round each ball, cut away foliage that sticks above the ball's smooth surface.

Once the basic shape of each ball has been formed, clean up the internal branches. Removing any green foliage along the main branches makes the green balls a stunning accent piece for your yard.

Once you have cleaned up the tree's truck, it can be helpful to finish by going over each ball again to ensure it's as smooth as possible. The rounder each ball is, the better it'll look.

How Often Should You Touch Up A Shaped Conifer Tree?


How often you should touch up a shaped conifer tree will depend on how sharp you want your tree to be. To keep any basic shape you cut into a conifer tree, you must reprune twice a year. Doing so will ensure that the tree holds its shape but doesn't necessarily keep the shapes looking sharp.

To keep your shaped conifer trees looking sharp, it would be best to prune back growth every one to two months. If you touch up the tree every two months, it will always keep its shape and detailing, but monthly touchups will ensure a sharply defined tree.

If you cut an elaborate shape into your conifer tree, it will need monthly touchups to hold its detail. You can slow down touchups during the winter since the tree's growth will be minimal.

How Do You Keep A Conifer Tree Healthy For Topiary?

One essential aspect of topiary, which is the art of cutting trees and shrubs into shapes, is a healthy tree. If your tree isn't healthy, it won't hold shapes well and can be damaged by pruning. Let's look at some easy ways to keep your conifer tree healthy for topiary.

Pruning Dead Branches

To help keep your conifer tree healthy for topiary, it's essential to prune away dead branches. Dead branches can impede the growth of healthy branches and make topiary more challenging.

Conifer trees will also use resources to seal off dying branches, and those resources can be minimized by removing dead wood and allowing the tree to heal clean cuts.

Weekly Watering

Another essential for conifer trees is weekly deep watering. Every week you don't have rain, you should soak the ground around your tree for an hour. Doing so will allow water to soak deep into the ground where the tree can constantly access it.

When trees need water, they stop growing to help conserve it. If you supply your conifer tree with a readily available water supply, it will grow more, which is vital for topiary.

Yearly Fertilizer

Another thing you can do to help keep your tree healthy for topiary is a yearly application of fertilizer. Fertilizer should be spread around the base of your conifer tree in the early spring while the tree is still dormant.

When the tree begins waking during spring, it will find it has abundant nutrients and will have a great growing season. If you would like some fertilizer for your conifer tree, here are two of the best available on Amazon.

GreenView Multi-Purpose Fertilizer

You can find this product here on Amazon.

Green Ribbon Fertilizer

You can find this product here on Amazon.

Final Thoughts


This article taught us how to prune a conifer tree into a spiral. We also learned how to shape a conifer tree into other popular shapes. Remember, if you want to shape a conifer tree into a shape, then it's essential that it's healthy.

We hope you enjoyed this article. If you want to learn more, check out some of these other posts:

32 Dwarf Conifers For Landscaping

Do Fir Trees Have Cones, Sap, Pollen Or Flowers?

How To Shape A Conifer Tree Into A Spiral [Step-By-Step Guide]

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