Boxwood Hedge Ideas

A low boxwood hedge makes a pretty border around an herb garden. Being evergreen, a tall Buxus hedge will provide year round privacy. Here are instructions for planting, pruning and rejuvenating run down box hedges.



Boxwood hedges in an Altamonte Springs front yard landscape design.

Here, tall and low-growing boxwood hedges form the basic structure of an Altamonte Springs, Fl front yard landscape design.

A pair of box spiral topiaries keep this formal landscape from being dull.

Hedges provide the structure around which great landscape designs are built.

Boxwood plants, with their small leaves and dense growing habit, are such popular shrubs for hedges because they can be easily sculpted into nearly any shape imaginable.

Tall Buxus varieties, like the 10x12 foot American boxwood, can be used where a privacy hedge is needed or for shaping into outdoor topiaries.

'Green Velvet' boxwood, being half the size of American box, is better suited for lower hedges.

For ultra-low hedges, consider dwarf boxwood varieties such as Korean boxwood whose ultimate height is just 3 feet.

Boxwood - Wee Willie
from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

Boxwood - Koreanes
from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

Boxwood - Green Velvet
from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

Planting a Boxwood Hedge

Low boxwood hedge around the herb garden at Heathcote Botanical Gardens.

A mini box parterre at Heathcote Botanical Gardens in Central Florida.

  1. The first thing you'll need to do is make a straight line on the ground where the hedge is going to be. To do this pound a stake into the ground at each end of the, as yet unplanted, hedge. Connect the stakes with a string.
  2. Measure from each end of the string to a stationary object like the wall of a house or garage. Adjust the stakes until the measurements match.
  3. Draw a line on the ground under the string. You can use flour, borax (the laundry additive) or even brightly colored spray paint. Remove the stakes and string once your line or lines are drawn.
  4. Now, measure the line/lines. If you are planting a dwarf variety of boxwood shrub, you'll need one plant for every foot of line.
  5. Once you have obtained the required number of plants, plant them one 1 foot centers along the line you drew.
  6. If the area in which you will be planting the shrubs is sodded, it would be better to trench out all the sod along the planting line than to dig holes in the grass.

Set the plants into the soil so that the top of the rootball is slightly above the earth around it to ensure proper drainage. Keep the hedge well watered its first season in the ground but don't feed or prune it for a few months. Let it settle into its new home first.

Finally, apply 2 inches of mulch around the roots of your newly planted boxwood hedge. Boxwoods have shallow, heat sensitive roots that benefit greatly from a summer blanket of mulch. Do not apply more than 2 inches and try to keep the mulch off the bases of the shrubs so that air can circulate through that area.


Pruning Boxwood

A much more elaborate parterre garden in Europe.

Major pruning should be done in late winter or early spring. You can clip the hedge lightly, to maintain the desired shape, at any time during the growing season.

Excessive pruning can be avoided by planting a variety of Buxus that grows to the desired size. For a low hedge, plant a dwarf variety. Different types of boxwood can grow from 2-15 feet tall.

Buy Discounted Boxwood Shrubs

Boxwood - Green Mountain

Boxwood - Wedding Ring

Boxwood, Hardy

Trimming Buxus in bright sunlight will cause leaf burn.  You won't see the evidence right away--it takes about 10 days to show up.

The burnt leaves will fall off a few days later.

To avoid tip burn, trim during overcast weather .

Try to shape the hedge so that the base is slightly wider than the top. Otherwise the top may shade the base and cause dieback at the bottom.

There is disagreement over whether to use power shears or hand pruners on Buxus. I think that a hand pruned hedge always looks best, but I also realize how impractical this can be.

Whichever method you chose, go over your hedge periodically with a hand pruner and thin out any crossing or crowding wood. Light needs to be able to penetrate the interior of the shrub in order to keep it healthy.

A boxwood hedge can last for decades if it is properly pruned and not allowed to grow so dense that light and air cannot get into it.


What to Do With a Dilapidated Boxwood Hedge

Boxwood Hedge refurbished by cloud pruning.

Cloud prune it!

The box hedge in the image above was cloud pruned to save it after years of neglect and just look at the beautiful results.

Cloud pruning (called Niwaki in Japan) is an artistic Japanese method of sculpting trees and shrubs to resemble clouds.

Cloud pruned boxwood.


Let the condition of the plants dictate the shapes.

Wherever your hedge has dieback, make a depression.

Niwaki: Pruning, Training and Shaping Trees the Japanese Way is a wonderful book which will help you master this prized art.




Other Shrubs for Hedges

The Adaptable Southern Yew

Aucuba: a Variegated Shrub for Shade

Japanese Privet , an Evergreen Shrub or Small Tree

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