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How to Cut Box Hedges

Updated February 21, 2017

The common box shrub, also known as Buxus sempervirens, is an evergreen plant that produces dense green foliage. Because of the thickness of the leaves, it is often used to create shrubs and privacy screens. The shrub is easy to trim into shapes, and is often used for topiaries in addition to a traditional square box shape. The plant is extremely hardy and requires very little care other than frequent pruning to maintain the desired shape.

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  1. Plug the cord of an electric hedge trimmer into an outlet. Depending on how far away from the house the hedge is located, you may need to use an extension cord.

  2. Insert wooden stakes into the ground at even intervals along the length of the hedge using a hammer. Use a tape measure to measure the same height on each stake and tie a string around the length of the stakes to create a level line.

  3. Move to one end of the hedge and turn on the hedge trimmer. Place the edge of the trimmer blades against the upper side of the hedge just above the location of the string.

  4. Cut the top of the box hedge using slow even strokes and move along the hedge until the entire top is trimmed. Bend down and place your head at eye level with the top of the hedge occasionally to make sure that the top is even.

  5. Move to one end of the box hedge and position the hedge trimmer blades in a vertical position against the side of the hedge. Move the trimmers in an upward fashion to cut the side of the hedge. Angle the trimmers inward slightly as you move up so that the top of the hedge is slightly indented from the bottom. Cut the other end of the hedge in the same manner.

  6. Remove the string and wooden stakes, and cut the sides of the hedge in the same manner that you cut the ends of the hedge.

  7. Walk along the entire length of the hedge and brush off any cuttings from the top of the hedge. If the hedge is wide, you can use a broom to brush the cuttings off. Rake up the cuttings off of the ground and discard.

  8. Tip

    You will need to trim the box hedge two to three times per year to maintain the proper shape. Wear safety goggles and gloves when trimming the box hedge.

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Things You'll Need

  • Electric hedge trimmer
  • Extension cord
  • Wooden stakes
  • Hammer
  • String
  • Broom
  • Rake
  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves

About the Author

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.

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