How to Care for Box Hedges

Overview

Box hedges (Buxus sempervirens) are planted throughout the United States. Box hedges are evergreen and can live for 100 years or more in optimal conditions. They can be drastically sheared to create small tight hedges or allowed to grow naturally into shrubs 15 feet tall and wide. If you live in the northern half of the U.S., choose a variety of box hedge, or boxwood, that is tolerant of cold winter temperatures, such as "Vardar Valley" or Korean boxwood.

Step 1

Plant box hedges in a well-drained location in average garden soil. Box hedges cannot live in waterlogged soil. For best performance, the location should have exposure to about six hours of direct sun each day. Although box hedges can grow in full sun, they perform best if planted in an area that receives some shade, especially in the latter part of the day.

Step 2

Clear weeds from around the box hedges by hand or with a hoe. Keep in mind that the root systems of box hedges are shallow and are easily damaged by disturbing the ground over the root system with gardening tools. Weeds and other plant growth should not be allowed to grow within 12 inches of the trunks of box hedges. Nearby plants create competition for moisture and nutrients.

Step 3

Spread a 1-inch layer of compost over the root zone of the box hedges every spring to provide nutrients to the plants. Spread the compost out to 12 inches from the plant. If you have a layer of mulch over the root systems, simply rake it back to apply the compost, then replace the mulch.

Step 4

Add a 1- to 2-inch layer of mulch over the compost layer to conserve moisture and prevent weeds from growing. The mulch should extend out 12 inches from the bottom of the plants.

Step 5

Prune the box hedge to maintain the desired shape and prune out dead, diseased or injured branches. Be sure not to prune after after mid-summer. This ensures that new growth has time to harden before the first frost sets in. If pruning is desired, remember to leave the bottom of the hedge slightly wider than the top so sunlight can reach the bottom limbs. This prevents the top from shading out the bottom limbs, which causes leaf drop in the bottom portion of the plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning tool
  • Compost
  • Mulch

References

  • USDA: Boxwood
  • Virginia Coop: Boxwood in the Landscape
Keywords: box hedges, boxwood care, box hedges care

About this Author

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.