How to prune buxus

Updated February 21, 2017

Boxwood (buxus) shrubs are often used in formal gardens, topiaries and as edging in garden beds. With regular pruning, your boxwood can maintain a crisp look. Buxus are dense evergreens and can be prone to disease if they are not thinned out to allow enough air and light to enter. Pruning also controls the size and shape of your evergreen and stimulates growth. Prune annually in early winter to keep your boxwood healthy.

Remove any dead or decaying wood in the spring and as needed throughout the year using sharp bypass hand pruners.

Pull back the branches to reveal the inside of your plant. You will notice that the leaves are growing only on the outermost portion of the branches.

Using sharp bypass hand pruners, cut off 6 inches of a stem, removing the outer branch. Do this to about 10 per cent of the outer branches, thinning out the entire shrub and allowing sunlight and air to circulate inside the shrub.

Using a hedge clipper, trim any new growth back to keep a tidy look if your boxwood is already at its mature height. Allow new growth to remain if your boxwood has not yet reached its final height.

Trim any unruly growth throughout the summer to maintain its shape.

Trim any areas that you do not want to grow.

Trim the top slightly narrower than the base. The wider base will help the entire boxwood to receive the sunlight it needs.


Keep a plastic container with alcohol-soaked cotton balls to disinfect your tools occasionally. You can also use Listerine or Lysol.

Things You'll Need

  • Bypass hand pruners
  • Hedge clipper
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About the Author

Based in Baltimore, Md., Karen Dietzius has been a professional writer and editor since 2005. She has been published on various websites and edited scripts for "A Work In Progress," an inspirational radio drama.