#ProPlantTips - Creating A Formal Boxwood Hedge!

#ProPlantTips - Creating A Formal Boxwood Hedge!

Boxwood headge with raised formal corners

Good fences make good neighbors! Fencing is an integral, sometimes necessary, component of a yard! There is always the standard white picket fence, or you can take things up a notch for some curb appeal that will last ages!

While there are many types of shrubs for hedges available, the iconic Boxwood stands out with consistent growth, lush green foliage, plus compact growth!

Buxus varieties have been used as trimmed hedges as far back as 4,000 BC in the gardens of Roman villas! These fantastic plants are rabbit and deer-resistant, so plant without fear of damage! 

Getting Started

Whether for property definition, privacy or as a backdrop for spring-flowering shrubs - create hedges by planting close together and trimmed so the bottoms are wider than the tops - ensuring the foliage and branching are held right down to the ground and not shade themselves out. 

  1. Draw out your row using a garden hose, stakes and twine, or temporary marking paint
  2. Perform a soil test if you suspect your soil is lacking nutrients and to ensure the pH is correct for Boxwood
  3. Dig a hole twice the size of your root system to ensure the site is well-drained. Boxwood has shallow root systems and dislikes soggy soil. If poor drainage is suspected, berm the area - it’s a sneaky way to elevate your hedge too!
  4. Using your guideline, plant your shrubs at equal distances, measuring from the central stem cluster of one to the central stems of the next
  5. Install drip irrigation - do not allow new plants to dry out between waterings throughout their first growing season
  6. Topdress with 3-4 inches of mulch, providing a clean, finished look, block weeds, retain moisture and improve insulation


A formally sheared hedge creates a castle-like look and feel! Bushes should be installed uniformly and close together, in straight rows, creating a solid mass of green, all trimmed to perfection!


Fat fluffy shrubs create a country or cottage feel and you’ll enjoy early spring white flowers when left unpruned. Planting farther apart while allowing plants to develop their natural shape and form. The bushes can grow to touch or be spaced at their mature width.

Avoid straight lines and go for winding curves or zig-zags instead. 

spacing of boxwood hedges


Placing a specimen shrub at key locations among your hedge really takes a humdrum row to new levels! Anchor corners or ends, highlight a destination or create a focal point to draw the eye.

  • Anchor hedge corners with taller shrubs, or the corner of your home’s foundation
  • Larger shrubs spaced at regular intervals - interspersed among long expanses
  • Groupings to backdrop a special feature, urn, sculpture or fountain, or for privacy
  • An allée around seating areas using taller shrubs to provide screening
  • Flanking your driveway or the start of a path or walkway

For an informal feel, just the shrub’s height or shape difference becomes what stands out from the others. Formal specimens can be taller or trimmed differently than the surrounding hedge. 

Boxwood are also excellent candidates for Topiary! Create whimsical shapes, twists, cubes or cones, pyramids, or orbs, for a unique garden, formal or otherwise. Just give your creativity free rein! 

Best Boxwood Variety for Hedges

  • Dwarf English Boxwood - small and slow-growing, maturing 18-24 inches high and wide.
    • Formal hedges: Plant 12 inches on center
    • Informal hedges: Plant 24-30 inches apart
  • Green Velvet Boxwood - one of the most popular, and faster-growing varieties - maturing 3-4 feet high and wide
    • Formal hedges: Plant 15-18 inches on center
    • Untrimmed natural form hedge: Space 3-4 feet apart
  • Green Gem Boxwood - smaller, easier to maintain hedge maturing 2-3 feet high and wide.
    • Formal hedge: Plant 15-18 inches on center
    • Informal hedge: Plant 30 inches apart
  • Green Mountain Boxwood - naturally grows more pyramidal, upright form for formal hedges or walls, maturing to 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. 
    • Formal trimmed hedges: Plant 18" on center 
    • Informal looks: Spread 30 inches or more
  • Wintergreen Boxwood - a spreading selection, maturing to 4-5 feet across while the height can be similar in time.
    • Formal plantings: Plant 24 inches on center
    • Informal hedges: Space 3-4 feet apart
  • Winter Gem Boxwood - another spreading selection, matures at 2-3 feet.
    • Formal plantings: Plant 18 inches on center
    • Natural form: Spread out to 24 inches

Boxwood Spacing

There is no right or wrong when it comes to spacing, it all depends upon the look you are going for! The mature size of the above shrubs determines how best to use them, and how much pruning will be needed to keep your hedge height in check. 

White the mature spread determines how many shrubs you’ll need for your project. Spacing also depends upon how quickly you want the hedge to be a solid, continuous mass. 

Patience and spacing further apart mean buying fewer shrubs. While planting Boxwood closer at the start gives faster results, at the cost of purchasing more shrubs.

Height is easily controlled through pruning. It’s best not to prune in the late summer or fall, allowing new growth to harden off before winter. 

  • Hand pruners give you a soft, informal look and provide free exercise!
  • Electric or gas hedge shears are best for a formal, even effect. 

Preventing Boxwood Blight--#ProPlantTips from the Plant Sentry Experts

Are you ready to add beautiful structure and symmetry to your landscape using Boxwood shrubs? Excellent! There are a few things the Plant Sentry team encourages you to look out for. 

While Boxwoods are beautiful, like many other plants they can also carry diseases. A disease that is quite common for Boxwoods is Boxwood Blight. This is a fungal disease that is caused by Calonectria pseudonaviculata.This disease is easily transported from nurseries that are infected with the disease through plants that have yet to develop symptoms and through infected shoots that are often tucked back inside the plant. Such as infected wreaths during the holiday seasons. 

But, there is some good news! Boxwood blight only spreads above ground, and like many other diseases has symptoms to help identify the infection. 

Here are the signs you want to look for:

  • Dark leaf spots that change to form brown blotches
  • White fungal spores on the underside of the leaf (particularly when humid)
  • Rapid leaf loss, starting from the bottom of the plant moving quickly to the top

Key Indicating Symptoms of Boxwood Blight:

  • Black streaks (cankers) on green stems
  • White fuzzy fungal masses from the black streaks during times of high humidity

If you’re concerned that your Boxwood plants may be infected, we encourage you to remove the plants immediately from your garden to prevent any spreading. While doing so, carefully protect the plants nearby to prevent any potential spread.

For more information on this disease visit our friends at Purdue University.

Bring on the Boxwoods

Planting a Boxwood shrub hedge adds incredible visual appeal and provides habitat for wildlife - especially local birds! Enjoy verdant green among fall colors and a break from winter’s browns. 

You’ll dampen sound from a busy road, add privacy, and even block the wind! Just imagine the sense of seclusion brought by surrounding yourself in living greenery.

Head over to our Garden Blog for more great information on Caring for your Boxwood Then select which Boxwood shrub is perfect for you at NatureHills.com!

Shop Boxwoods now

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