Boxwoods shrubs are commonly used in landscaping since they can be pruned into small round or square hedges, single-stemmed trees, or into the most intricate topiaries. They can add curb appeal to your front yard by being used along driveways, walkways, and lawns. There are a ton of names for boxwoods since there are around 90 different types and more than 350 varieties. Some species can grow tall enough to create solid walls for privacy while others are dwarf varieties that remain small.
The uses for these evergreen bushes in landscaping are truly endless. Bonus, they are also considered low maintenance plants! They can grow in a variety of soil types and can tolerate both shade and sun. There are even varieties like Green Gem that can tolerate colder temperatures. Let’s dive in and explore some of the amazing ways these diverse plants can be used in your landscape!
20 LANDSCAPING IDEAS
1. Alternate Landscape Colors with Evergreen Boxwood Shrubs
Boxwoods can be used to create different landscaping designs in different seasons. For example, they’re a great addition to landscapes where plants with vibrant fall colors are plentiful. Reds, oranges, and yellows will look fantastic alongside the glossy, dark green leaves of this bush. When the beautiful fall colors give way to bare shrubs, your evergreen boxwoods will remain unchanged, giving life to your garden all winter.
2. Use Boxwood for All-Season Hedging
You can also combine lush, green boxwoods with vivid summer flowers to create a gorgeous summer landscape! Using flowers along with these hedges to create a border around your lawn can take your hedgerow to the next level. Plus, when the flowers fade away you’ll still have your boxwoods to provide that perfectly manicured border around grassy areas. Consider incorporating a variegated variety like Buxus sempervirens ‘Variegata’, which is a lighter green, to add even more color.
3. Create a Formal, English Garden Look
Boxwood topiaries are perhaps most often associated with the expansive, regal gardens of English castles. To bring that old English charm to your landscape, make topiaries the focal point with stone walkways surrounded by boxwood hedges. Get creative and add more interest by leaving negative space in the middle of hedgerows as shown in the photo above. Negative space can take your hedgerow to the next level.
4. Create Intricate Landscapes
To create a truly outstanding landscape, make sure to use unique shapes at multiple heights. An espalier can be used to train certain trees into a unique design along a flat plane. Espaliers are commonly found along walls and fences but you can make your garden stand out by using them as the centerpiece. Boxwoods can then be used to complement them at the ground level resulting in an absolutely stunning garden.
5. Make Creative Landscape Designs on a Budget
You don’t have to be a pruning guru, or spend a ton of money, to use boxwoods for inexpensive but creative landscape ideas. Boxwoods arranged in a simple layout and pruned into basic shapes can easily be enough to make an artistic, low-maintenance design. Add a little height variation into the equation and you can produce a unique, budget-friendly landscape around your home.
6. Hedge Front of the House
Hedges are the go-to type of landscape to add curb appeal to the front of your house. If you keep them pruned, they help your landscape tie into the trim and other straight lines found on your home. Use boxwoods as the foundation for your hedging design and incorporate other colors and shapes to add even more interest.
7. Hedge a Front Yard Walkway
Lining a beautifully designed stone walkway with boxwood shrubs can make your stonework pop. They can create an inviting feeling by drawing the line of sight up to your front door. A green border surrounding your walkway also helps to soften the overall look of hardscapes.
Boxwoods aren’t just good plants for hedgerows along walkways, but can also add a unique touch by being grown as individual shrubs. You can then incorporate other topiary shapes such as circles, squares, or cones to accentuate your walkway, making it warm and inviting to guests. Consider using dwarf boxwood varieties to reduce maintenance and ensure shrubs don’t grow together in the long run.
If you’re aiming for a more rustic appeal, boxwoods can provide shades of green to compliment the brown colors found in boulders and mulch. Lining your walkway with small bushes makes it feel welcoming and brings attention to your stunning rock garden landscaping. Since boxwoods are evergreens, they can also help keep your hardscapes from looking dull and cold in the winter.
8. Use Boxwoods for Lawn Edging
A common use for boxwoods is edging. For example, you can use them along the length of your green lawn. Prune them into a small round shape to add more interest, versus a typical solid square hedge. Leaving some space between individual shrubs at the top and bottom of the hedgerow adds dimension to the overall look. Just look at this image above. This cute edging design does for landscaping what a beautiful bead necklace does for a woman’s neck – it adds charisma.
9. Hedge the Property
You can also use boxwoods to create lot boundaries. This is a great alternative to the stereotypical white picket fence which was once considered a symbol of the American dream home. While many boxwood hedges use sharp, square edges, consider rounding them off to soften their look and create a very different curb appeal.
10. Create Landscaping Privacy Walls
Evergreen shrubs are perfect for creating a privacy wall for your property. While even the tallest boxwood species tend to top out around 10 feet, you can layer them along terraces to get the height you need. This layering effect also adds an element of texture to your landscape versus a single, solid wall of shrubs.
It takes some great effort to maintain a living privacy wall like the one shown in the image above. Careful trimming turns this row of shrubs into a chain of linked cylinders. Tall boxwoods on the top terrace layer are contrasted by smaller shrubs and plants on lower levels to add color and texture to the landscape.
11. Hedge a Driveway
Similar to walkways, adding boxwood hedges along your driveway can make your home stand out in the neighborhood. They create a clear definition between the driveway and the rest of your yard which can give your landscaping a more formal feel. The versatility of a shrub-based hedge compared to a fence is also desirable. You can change the height or shape over time to suit your preferences. This is a brilliant landscaping idea.
12. Use Boxwoods in Tropical Landscapes Too!
Boxwoods are the perfect addition to tropical landscapes which are often characterized as having an abundance of lush foliage, unique textures, and vivid colors at multiple heights. These elements work together to give the garden the feeling of an untamed, tropical rainforest. Boxwoods can help add just a hint of structure, especially along walkways and seating areas.
13. Create Simple Landscapes with a Great Curb Appeal
Combine several of the ideas in this article to create a visually pleasing, low-maintenance landscape design. You can use dwarf varieties along with larger varieties behind them to create a layered effect. Accentuate the sides of flowerbeds or staircases with potted boxwoods to add even more curb appeal.
You can also use boxwoods to add height to existing stonework and more definition to a flowerbed. They can bring a clean-cut look to a flowerbed full of plants that can’t be pruned into specific shapes.
Beautify a boring concrete retaining wall by using boxwoods around small flowerbeds. Plant your shrubs to form rectangular shapes to guide guests to two separate entrances. These natural guides will be easy to maintain in the long run since you’ll be trimming along straight lines.
Stonework can also be expensive. Boxwoods can be used as a wonderful alternative and still help define garden beds. Plus, they’ll stay green all winter long when flowers die off and the leaves fall from trees.
14. Add Boxwood Trees to the Mix
Boxwoods are one of the many shrubs you can make look like a tree! This topiary form is called a ‘standard’ which refers to shrubs that have been expertly pruned into a lollipop shape with a bare stem and round canopy. Incorporating boxwood topiary standards into your landscape, to provide height and dimension, creates wonderful visual appeal.
15. Alternate Shapes
Spice up your hedges by alternating shapes and sizes. Here the larger, rounded boxwoods add charm by acting like pillars along a wall of shorter square-shaped boxwoods. Since there are hundreds of varieties of boxwoods, you can choose species that will grow to the perfect height to meet your needs.
16. Use Boxwoods for a Japanese Landscaping Idea
Zen gardens are known for their minimalist design. Boxwoods are perfect for this since they don’t produce showy flowers. They can also replace bonsai trees since they can be pruned into desired shapes as well. If you’re trying to stick to plants native to Asia, there are plenty of varieties of both Japanese and Korean boxwoods to choose from.
17. Grow Boxwoods in Pots and Planters as Decor Accents
Boxwoods can be grown in pots or planters and placed on tables or columns and along walls to add decorative accents. You can stick to a more subtle pot or use one with bright colors to contrast the dark green foliage of the shrub. Two of the best varieties to grow in containers are Green Velvet and Green Gem.
Their ability to be grown in planters also allows you to use boxwoods in areas without flowerbeds. They can add some life in urban areas and don’t require the same amount of upkeep as flowers. You can use them to accentuate doors or windows too.
18. Implement Modern Landscaping Ideas
A modern landscape design should incorporate elements such as clean lines, contrasting textures, and geometric shapes. The topiary shapes you can achieve with boxwoods are a great addition to any modern design since they can provide all three of these elements at the same time. While pruning will give you clean lines and geometric shapes, the small, compact leaves still add texture to the design. You can use rounded shrubs to help soften the overall look as shown here.
Square-shaped boxwoods can also be added to modern landscapes to complement square pavers and add a touch of color. Their leaves will also play off of the texture of gravel.
19. Make Topiary Designs
While we’ve covered some of the more simple topiary designs, there is no limit to how elaborate you can get. Boxwoods can easily be transformed from shrubs into living sculptures. Get creative and make this wonderful plant the centerpiece of your landscape design!
20. Create a Corner Garden
Creating a cute, corner garden with boxwoods can be an easy DIY project that you could accomplish in a day. While small corners are often left vacant, by adding a few plants you can really bring them to life. Add a few natural rocks to provide even more appeal.
If you want to add some color, surround your boxwoods with seasonal flowers. These bushes will act as a foundation for this mini garden and your backyard corner will remain green even as the flowers fade.
21. Boxwood Maintenance / Trimming
Boxwoods aren’t just great for landscaping because they can be used in so many unique ways, but also because they are low maintenance. While a few insect pests will feed on boxwoods, like mites and leafminers, spraying insecticidal soaps with potassium can kill many insects on contact. Since boxwoods have a shallow root system, add a layer of mulch around them to help the soil retain moisture. Mulch will also reduce the growth of weeds.
To maintain their shape, boxwoods need to be pruned at least once a year. You can see the difference a quick pruning makes in the before and after photos above. The best time to prune them is in May or June, depending on where you live, after the threat of frost has passed. Avoid pruning in late summer or fall as this will encourage new growth which may not have time to fully harden before winter temperatures set in.
There are a variety of pruning tools to help you maintain the desired shape of your boxwood shrubs. Hand pruners are small and work well for light touch-up pruning and refining small details on intricate topiaries. Pruning shears, shown above, work great for pruning back larger bushes into more simplistic shapes. Loopers should be used for thinning out shrubs when branches larger than 1/4 inch in diameter need to be removed.
Electric hedge trimmers can make quick work of pruning boxwood hedges and less complex topiaries. They can help you complete a pruning job that would typically take an hour or more in a fraction of the time. Make sure you select the right pruning tool for your desired outcome when it comes to maintaining boxwoods.