Pumpkin Topiary

11 Materials
2 Hours

For someone who has never really paid much attention to my own landscaping (because I’m too busy creating décor for inside), I feel like I’ve turned a new leaf this year. Maybe it’s because I just turned 30? Who knows! All I know is if I can keep the beautiful mums I got for this project alive this season, I’ll be doing something I never thought I’d do and I’ll be happy about it.

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I’ve always envied homeowners whose homes look like they’re straight out of Southern Living magazine—their porches are prim and proper, their outdoor décor is on point, and I’ve even noticed “normal” topiaries adorning either side of their front door. I started seeing holiday topiaries so I figured now is a better time than any to try my hand at creating a topiary just for fall so here it goes!

Not pictured:
STEP 1: Sketch, Carve and Design faces. You don’t have to do this first part of the step but unless you’re really good at using a drimmel or box cutter, I’d highly suggest it. I first took my pumpkins and drew a face on each one, using a pencil. I didn’t want scary jack-o-lanterns, but rather funny or cute ones which is why I chose a round nose on each pumpkin, droopy eyes and a smiley mouth.

*NOTE: I HIGHLY RECOMMEND SAFETY GLASSES AND A MASK FOR THIS STEP IF YOU DECIDE TO USE A DREMEL AS DUST FLIES EVERYWHERE! Then, I took my dremel, and on the LOW setting, started shaving away the inside of the pumpkins’ faces. After a little while of doing this on one, I tried using a box cutter to cut out the faces instead—I found this to be much easier and less time consuming. So after switching to using the box cutter and once I had the faces cut out, I went back with the dremel to even out any rough spots and essentially clean up the cuts. If you’re not careful and don’t have a steady hand, your dremel will sort of ZING out of the lines without you really having any control of it—I did this a few times so to compensate, I covered my mistakes by accentuating them and making whimsical designs on my pumpkins. It’s funny because once all three of them were done and I stepped back to take a look at my work, I sort of saw Rob, me, and our son, Bo. Rob with the mustache/beard (the white one), me with random artsy designs (the orange one) and Bo with a laughing face and a tear (the black one…because he just turned 2 and he’s had his share of throw down tantrums but he’s really a happy kid—haha! Bless his heart!)
STEP 2: Measure for height of topiary. Next, I laid my carved pumpkins out, roughly how I thought they were going to stack on top of each other, and measured from the top to the bottom. I also stuck the 10’ PVC pipe in my planter to eyeball how high I thought I wanted my topiary to be, and lastly, I measured the depth of the planter. All-in-all I decided to cut my PVC at 42”. This would give me enough material to bury part of the pipe in the planter, plant mums around it and also be able to see the pumpkins clearly without being sunk too far down.
STEP 3: Cut PVC. After I got my measurement, I cut my PVC pipe at 42”. I made sure to do this as slow and steady as possible so that the saw didn’t tear up the plastic or rip the pipe out of my hand.
STEP 4: Drill holes in pumpkins for stacking. Finally, it was time to stack my pumpkins. I started with my bottom two pumpkins—stacked them one last time to see where they would connect—then drilled a hole in the bottom/center and on the top left side of my bottom pumpkin (black), using a paddle bit. I did the same for the bottom left and top right of my middle pumpkin (orange) and the bottom right of my top pumpkin (white). You can choose to drill a hole at the top of the top pumpkin if you’d like but mine sat nicely without falling over so I was good with just the bottom hole. I thought of possibly even putting a hat on top but in the end, I felt like the simple approach was best for my topiary. *Note: I chose the ¾” paddle bit since my PVC pipe was ¾”, however when I tried inserting the pipe into the holes of the pumpkins, the pipe was obviously the same size as the holes so I carefully went back through the holes with the same paddle bit to enlarge them slightly. I guess you could possibly go up a size in the paddle bit.
STEP 5: Prep planter. I know I’ll probably hear it from you guru gardeners out there, but being a complete brown-thumber (I think I may have just created a new label…?), I consulted Rob and just went with this idea for planting. There were already a few holes in the bottom of the planter and because it was from another project I had done previously, there was a hole in the side of it closer to the top. So instead of filling the entire thing with potting soil, I filled the bottom half with sand from Bo’s sandbox, then filled the rest with potting soil.
STEP 6: Plant flowers/plants. Lastly, I planted my three beautiful mums around my stacked pumpkins. Doing this made my PVC pipe lean a little but once I got all of the mums planted and the soil mashed down, the pumpkins sat up straight and sturdy. *Note: I thought for a split second of doing this project like I did with the pedestal table I created back at the beginning of the summer where I used concrete to set the PVC pipe. However, I didn’t want to spend more money on supplies and I figured this is a seasonal project so I can always take it apart and use it again next year, or take the pumpkins off and stack something else for Christmas or other holidays. Plus, the concrete would make it super difficult to move around to different locations should I want to put it on my other stoop.
OPTIONAL STEP: Add lights. I wanted my pumpkin topiary to be seen at night so I added some fairy lights inside each pumpkin. I'm really happy with how this pumpkin topiary came out.
As I've mentioned in a previous post, we don't celebrate Halloween in our home, but more harvest/fall season in general; I think, however, this topiary is all fall with a classy touch on Halloween.
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Have a question about this project?

3 of 12 questions
  • Gerry Ramos
    on Oct 22, 2017

    How can I save these instructions on this project?? I am making a file of all home talk projects I want to do for my home.

    • Asusens P Mefford
      on Oct 29, 2017

      At the very top of the project there's a heart that says save tap on it and it will save this page
  • Bry
    on Aug 29, 2019

    So darn cute! After Halloween, can you turn it around to show the pumpkins without the faces?

  • Love to repurpose
    on Aug 31, 2019

    What if you painted faces on the pumpkins stacked them and used

    fairy lights....less work?

    • Jill Ron Pike
      on Sep 12, 2019

      If you just paint the faces on the pumpkins, there are no places for the fairy lights to shine through. If you just want a glow, it depends on the thickness of the plastic pumpkins. You may need to use something stronger than just fairy lights.

Join the conversation

2 of 191 comments
  • Lynne
    on Aug 29, 2019

    really cute!! i really want to try this, and thanks for the idea

  • Country Girl
    on Sep 2, 2019

    You rock! This is gorgeous & can be modified for whatever season/holiday you like. Also, I'm a fiend for string lights in the house - I find them magical - & will use this idea somewhere inside for more 'magical' lighting. Thanks for the awesome idea!!! I'm inspired!

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