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Tree Artists: Sculpting with Mother Nature

Sometimes, the medium an artist chooses to work with is just as interesting as the art itself. Such is often the case with tree artists. From talented sculptors to topiary masters, the gifted individuals who make artwork out of trees always leave us wowed by their work.

Here’s a spotlight on some of the most in-tree-guing forms of art made with our favorite natural wonders.


The bonsai tree is beloved by many and is often used as a symbol of harmony, patience, or luck. While it’s widely recognized, many people are surprised to discover that cultivating the bonsai tree is actually considered an art form.

Bonsai is an ancient Japanese art in which a small tree is grown in a way that mimics its full-size cousin. These miniature trees are meant to be a representation of nature “planted in a container,” which is the literal translation of bonsai. This meticulous art form requires methodical pruning to give the small plant the appearance of a tree, along with careful use of specific soil. Some perfectionist bonsai enthusiasts even aim to water their creation exclusively with rainwater.

Interested in trying bonsai yourself? Juniper is the most popular variety, but Jade is a particularly low-maintenance strain ideal for beginners.


The first historical mention of topiary art extends back to the Roman Empire, with author Pliny the Younger describing cypress animals and figures in his gardens. While the art form went dormant after the fall of Rome, it experienced a resurgence throughout Europe during the Renaissance. Exquisite hedge sculptures were especially popular in France, Italy, and England.

A surge in the popularity of houseplants during the 1950s and 60s prompted Disney to showcase their own take on topiary gardens. The artists behind these impressive works utilize an innovative system in which moss is fastened to steel wires, serving as cutting guides and enabling portability. While topiary gardens can also be seen across the U.S., homeowners can clip their own hedges into shapes as complex or simple as they see fit with small-leaved shrubs. Delavay privet, pittosporum, and English holly are a few worthy contenders.

Stump Sculptors

Replacing a chisel with a chainsaw is certainly a bold move, and it’s precisely what has allowed stump sculptors to achieve their iconic woodsy masterpieces. There are lots of places to find chainsaw carvings, from Etsy to your local farmer’s market.

Finished works often feature symbols of nature, from land mammals like wolves and bears to soaring eagles and hawks. These pieces look lovely against a rustic backdrop and make for the perfect conversation starter for your property.

Tree Shaping

Also known as arborsculpture, tree shaping is a unique practice in which artists use living trees to create sculptures. Techniques include braiding, twisting, framing, pruning, grafting, and bending to form unnatural shapes with the natural medium. Contemporary artists like Peter Cook and Becky Northey have designed tree chairs and other exquisite shapes through their Pooktre process, a gradual shaping method.

Your trees don’t have to be pruned artistically to be beautiful, but they do require basic maintenance for optimal growth and safety. Entrust our trained arborists to shape your trees to encourage full growth and keep your property pristine. Schedule a service by calling 404-252-6448 or reach out to our team online.