Sunday, April 07, 2013

Make Topiaries on the Cheap: A Tutorial

Our tiny school recently had its spring drama production in which  two topiaries were needed for a scene in Much Ado About Nothing.  Having no money left in the art department, we had to get super creative to accomplish the task inexpensively.

Between us, the drama director and I came up with a pair  of topiaries that cost maybe $30 each.  The styrofoam balls I had priced were $14.99 each, which is not cheap when you need 6 .  We used alternate materials.

I brought these home after the play and enjoyed them for a little while till the moss started falling off.

They held up pretty well on my porch for five weeks, but honestly, every time I stepped out, the one by the door handle startled me.  Like a short little green man saying. "Boo!"

Here's how to make topiaries on the cheap. Remember these photos are taken as  I "unmade" the topiaries.



1 dowel rod       $4         (Home Depot)
1 rubber play balls $4 each (Walmart)
1 spongey ball ($4)  (Walmart)
Wadded up paper covered by large green construction paper (a few cents)
2-3 large bags moss--varied colors (found free, but would cost about $10 new with coupons)
Stain (leftover from set decoration supply, free)  
1 roll of industrial size paper towels  ($3) --necessary for the weight being supported
1 heavy, wide-mouthed garden pot  (free)
1 roll packing tape ($4)  (Walmart)
Mod Podge and sponge brushes (had these)
Ribbon (free)
A few straight pins (optional)  


     Stain the dowel rod. While it dries, work on the other parts
needed for assembly.

Start with a heavy, wide-mouthed pot. 
Fill the bottom with wadded paper to make it sort of level.

Shove a huge, heavy roll of industrial paper towels
into the pot.  Set the dowel rod down through
the center. 

Spread a layer of Mod Podge generously around the paper
and on top of it.  
You might need a few straight pins or tape to keep the 
paper towel from unrolling.

Arrange moss (green and brown) randomly to
look natural. Stuff paper down around the 
dowel rod to keep it upright.

Do the same thing with the spongey ball. 

This is the  middle ball --the paper one--because
the dowel rod has to poke through it. (Use lots of
packing tape to stick the paper ball to the rod.)

Top ball is lightweight rubber. Cover it with paper.
Apply glue, attach moss, and then tape it 
to the rod. Glue moss to it. 

Tie a ribbon around the stem for a finishing touch. 

Use in early spring when you need color
or to flank your front door. 

Just be on guard for Little Green Man scares.


Beth Zimmerman said...

I've never been a topiary fan but those look as good as any I've seen! =)

Zoanna said...

Truth be told, Beth, neither am I.
But I didn't want to waste them AND I wanted to post a tutorial since I could hardly find one when I went looking online. I mean, sure there are pricier ways. The cheapest I found before "our way" was with styroofoam balls and ivy found on Craiglist, but they would've run us more like $60 apiece. So in case anyone out is looking for a topiary for short-term use, this is it.