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How to Trim Boxwoods – Professional Gardener Tips!

How to Trim Boxwoods – Professional Gardener Tips!

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Boxwoods have been used for garden designing since ancient times. If you ask me, these plants are amazing for their foliage remains green all year round.

They are also very versatile when compared to other types of shrubs. Boxwoods also grow in sunny and shady areas, meaning they can grow anywhere, as long as all the other growth conditions are met.

These shrubs offer several landscaping functions, making them a favorite for homeowners and landscapers.


How to Trim Boxwoods?

If your boxwood has overgrown branches, cut off an inch or two from them to shape the plant and ensure it grows in the right direction. Boxwood trimming also involves eliminating any dead branches, diseased leaves, and debris inside the plant. If you notice your plant has bulky leaves, thin them out to allow light to get inside and better air circulation.


A Step By Step Guide on How to Trim Boxwoods


1. Get the Right Tools

The first step is to choose a suitable tool for trimming. This depends on your preference and tool availability.

Not every trimming tool is suitable for trimming boxwoods. Some of the trimming tools you’ll need include:

  • Anvil pruning shears
  • Loppers
  • Hedge trimmers


2. Remove Dead Branches If Any

Inspect the boxwoods for dead branches or diseased ones. It is easy to do so since they have a different appearance from the healthy ones.

Diseased leaves usually have brown spots, and some may be entirely brown. Cut these branches at their base.


3. Get Rid of The Debris That Has Piled Up Inside the Shrub

Use your hands to separate the branches so that you can spot leaves that have fallen over and accumulated inside the plant.

This allows air and light to reach all the parts of a plant.


4. Thin the Leaves

Look for bulky leaves sets and tall branches and cut them. Bulky leaves block light and air from getting into the center of the plant, which makes it unhealthy.

Also, trim any branch that sticks out of the shrub to make it rounded and look good. Thinning is also useful in keeping fungal diseases away since they thrive in dark and damp conditions.


Trimming Boxwoods into Different Shapes

Do you always admire stately gardens featuring perfectly trimmed plants into different designs? You can achieve exactly that with boxwoods.

You only need to know how to do it or involve a landscaper.


When To Trim Boxwoods

Boxwoods are slow-growing plants. That means they don’t need too much maintenance from you.

Basically, you might only have to trim them only once a year. Spring’s the best time for boxwood trimming. During summer, you can shape them up to your desired design.

Trimming them during fall or late summer would be a big mistake, as the newly developed parts will not have gotten strong enough to bear the cold winter weather.

However, there are exceptions.

When you notice some diseased branches, remove them as soon as possible, no matter the season, as they might spread the diseases to the healthy branches.


Trimming Boxwoods After Winter Damage

Mostly, boxwood leaves are evergreen. They can, however, get winter burnt and turn brown.

Boxwoods with brown leaves are not very attractive, and it’s advisable to cut them in early spring.

Using pruners or shears to cut the damaged parts helps the plant focus on the healthy part, encouraging growth.


Trimming An Overgrown Boxwood

If your boxwood has overgrown, you can still reduce it to the size you prefer. Trim it regularly rather than cutting it significantly at once, which might kill it.

Gradual reduction is the best option. Some people prefer cutting it to a stump.

Although it might still recover, it’s not guaranteed.


Why Should You Trim Boxwoods

There are various reasons why trimming is a must for boxwoods. Below are some of them.


Add Vigor

Trimming growing shoots encourages new growth. If you are looking forward to vigorously grown boxwood, trimming it frequently will help you achieve that.

If there are unhealthy branches on the tree, cutting them encourages the growth of other healthy branches and prevents the spread of diseases.


Shape Them To The Design Of Your Choice

Boxwoods may grow out of balance, especially when they are not trimmed for a very long time. They can easily be reshaped by trimming.

You can shape the plants when they are still young, and they will maintain the shape even after maturing.


Restrict Its Size

If your space is not very large, trimming your boxwoods ensures that they don’t outgrow the yard or garden.

If you prefer your plants not to be very tall for design purposes, trimming them regularly will keep them at your desired height.


Increase Longevity

Boxwoods that are trimmed frequently tend to live more than the untrimmed ones.

Trimming them reduces their possibility of developing diseases and encourages better growth.


Tips For Trimming Boxwoods

  • The cuttings that drop after trimming boxwood can be difficult to collect, rake up or even sweep. To make things easy, lay a sheet to collect them as they drop from the plant. It’ll be easy to corner the sheet and dispose of the cuttings.
  • If your boxwood hedge is very large, using electric-powered or gas-powered shears will make your work easier and faster.
  • Make sure the tools you use for trimming are well sterilized. This prevents the transmission of diseases. Similarly, if one boxwood has a disease like blight, make sure you sterilize the tool after trimming it before going to the next shrub.


Frequently Asked Questions about How to Trim Boxwoods


How Do Pruning and Trimming Differ?

Most people use the two terms interchangeably, but they have some differences. While pruning focuses more on a plant’s health, trimming focuses on its design and appearance, on top of keeping the plant healthy. Pruning is also done more frequently than trimming.


What Can Make a Boxwood Die After Trimming?

One of the reasons boxwoods die is over-trimming them. You should never trim more than 3 feet of the plants’ height as it might stress it, causing death. If your plant has grown very tall and you want it short, trim its height several times rather than doing it once.


Is It Good to Add Fertilizer to Boxwoods After Trimming?

Adding a slow-release fertilizer to boxwoods after trimming will greatly benefit them. Fertilizer gives nutrients to the plant, encouraging more foliage growth. Organic plant food is also another good option.



Boxwoods are excellent decorative plants with great versatility, and just like any other plant, they require some maintenance to keep them healthy and good-looking.

Trimming them is one way of maintaining them that should never be skipped.

Just make sure you do it the right way and time correctly to avoid problems like yellowing and achieve your desired design results.