How to Create a Hair-Raising DIY Skull Topiary

11 Materials
1 Hour

My daughter likes scary Halloween decor so she wanted me to make a skull topiary for the front door. Let’s get started!

Materials for the DIY skull topiary

Tools and Materials:

  • Skulls - I used 3 in each topiary
  • Skull with crow - I used 2
  • 2 pots
  • 2 metal signs (any will work because you only need the metal stick)
  • Styrofoam
  • Spanish moss
  • Paint (black, white and red)
  • Stain (Waverly Wax antique and clear)
  • Sponges
  • Brushes
  • Hot glue gun
Clean the decorative skulls

1. Prepare the Skulls

To start with, remove the labels from your skulls.

Create your base for the Halloween decoration

2. Set Up the Base

Next, cut a piece of Styrofoam to fit into the pot. You can glue it to make sure it's secure. Then, take your metal pole from the metal sign and stick it through the center of the styrofoam.

It doesn't matter what colour the styrofoam is as you won't see it when we are done.

Heat the top of the metal pole

3. Arrange the Skulls

Take a lighter or heat gun to heat up the top of the metal pole. I had to do this because I didn’t have a drill bit that would go all the way through the skull and I wanted to make sure they lined up nicely.

Push the metal pole through the skull

Then, push your skull all the way through and bring it to the bottom of the pole.

Skulls arranged on the metal pole

Do that with all the heads and stack them on top of each other. I used 3 in each pot but you could make them taller if you’d like.

Halloween skull decor ideas

4. Paint, Stain, and Add Detail

Now, remove them and begin to paint and stain them to make them look more realistic and scary.

How to create a bone-chilling skull topiary

I did 2 of each of the skulls in different colors.

For the first, I used the Waverly Wax in Antique as it’s brown looking. I rubbed it all over and then used a sponge and dabbed it to give it more texture.

Affordable DIY front door Halloween decor

The paint makes a big difference!

Paint in the details

Next, I used my black paint and a thin brush to highlight all the crevices. It doesn't have to be perfect. Make sure you get between the teeth and in the mouth too.

Turning skulls into a haunting yard display

Then use your white paint and a dry brush to paint over his teeth.

Crafting a spooky entrance

I repeated the same steps using my clear wax in my white paint and then clear wax in my black paint.

Step-by-step guide for spooky DIY topiary

I painted the other skulls to change their base color.

Cover Styrofoam with moss

5. Add Moss

I then used my hot glue to stick the Spanish moss to cover the styrofoam.

Halloween decor ideas

Then I stacked my skulls on top of each other onto the metal pole again.

Eerie outdoor Halloween project

I then used some Spanish moss to cover the pole in any spots that were sticking out. This also added a little creepiness.

Easy Halloween decor ideas with skulls

6. Finish With a Topper

Now, drill a hole through your topper and add it on.

Hauntingly beautiful skull topiary DIY

DIY Halloween Skull Topiary tutorial

I love how they turned out! Very creepy but perfect for our Halloween outdoor decor.

DIY Halloween decor

For more creative Halloween decor projects, discover Hometalk's best  DIY skull and skeleton decoration ideas or our Frightful Halloween Ideas for Your Front Yard tutorial.

Resources for this project:
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Frequently asked questions
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  3 questions
  • Katen Katen on Sep 16, 2020

    This is great! Your stain/paint job took them from wow to WOW. Wondering, last year I made an ornament topiary and needed to make a hole to slide on pole (just like you need for skulls). I used a hot glue gun without glue to melt thru and it worked great and perfect circle. Do you think this would work with skulls?

  • Wulf_lisa1 Wulf_lisa1 on Sep 16, 2021

    Do you think the Dollar stores carry the skulls? I know if you try to buy them from Amazon etc., this can actually become very costly. But they are super cool looking and if you are able to use them year after year than it pays for itself.

  • Tina Mcnicholas Tina Mcnicholas on Sep 16, 2022

    I love this! So cute but I’m wondering if the skull with the crow is from the dollar tree? It’s stupid high on Amazon! But it really finishes this off!

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