The buxus family of plants are traditional plants that have been used in colonial landscaping since 1652. The plants, which are more commonly called boxwood, are suitable for both formal and informal landscapes and have been used in both topiary and as hedges. Boxwood must be trimmed frequently. The plant is slow growing and infrequent trimming can kill lower leaves and pull the hedge out of shape.
Purchase boxwoods that are less than 3 feet high.
Plant boxwood closely together so that the shrubs touch to form a hedge at their mature height. Boxwood such as green mountain should be planted 3 feet apart while the wintergreen variety should be planted 3 1/2 feet apart.
Cut these plants back to 8 inches in height to encourage low branching.
Prune away half the new growth of the boxwood plants in the second season of growth.
Trim the boxwood hedge to the desired shape in the third year before the tree reaches its mature size.
Clean your pruning shears or hedge trimmers in a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water before trimming the buxus plants. This will help prevent the spread of diseases. Determine which shape you plan to trim your plants prior to pruning them. A perfectly square hedge will collect snow. Hedges with straight sides will require frequent pruning. Rounded shapes hinder snow accumulation and require less frequent pruning. An ideal shape is one with a thicker base than the top. This type of hedge will allow light to reach the lowest branches and will promote healthy vegetation.