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How to trim a box hedge

Updated November 21, 2016

Box hedge (Buxus sempervirens) is also known as the common boxwood. Box hedges are commonly used in landscaping in a variety of ways. Because boxwoods produce dense, thick growth, the shrubs may be used as natural screens or sculptured topiaries. Box hedges may be grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 6 through 8. In zones 7 and 8, they may be planted any time of the year. Box hedges grow 8 to 20 feet high with a spread of 10 to 15 feet in a naturally round shape, but many gardeners trim box hedges to control their size and shape.

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  1. Prune box hedges once during spring and again in summer while they are actively growing. Light trimming will not damage boxwood shrubs even during active growth.

  2. Squat until your eyes are level with the top of the hedge, giving you a straight-on perspective of the plant.

  3. Trim the top of the hedge lightly with pruning shears to make it flat and even.

  4. Step away from the hedge every few minutes to get a wide view of it.

  5. Trim along the sides, shaping them to taper upward to make the top slightly thinner than the base. The design allows all parts of the hedge to receive sunlight.

  6. Brush away trimmings using a soft brush and sweep up all the cuttings with a broom to discard them. Trimming may spread fungal disease or draw pests.

  7. Cut away any damaged or dead areas of the box hedge. Damaged or diseased wood and foliage may cause other parts of the plant to become unhealthy.

  8. Tip

    Wear gloves when pruning hedges.

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Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Brush
  • Broom
  • Garden gloves

About the Author

K. C. Morgan is a professional freelance writer, with articles and blog posts appearing on dozens of sites. During her years of writing professionally, K. C. has covered a wide range of topics. She has interviewed experts in several fields, including celebrated psychoanalyst Frances Cohen Praver, PhD; television personality and psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig; and entrepreneur Todd Reed.

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