Trimming Boxwood – When To Trim Box

When To Trim Boxwood

Trimming boxwood is a chore that only needs doing twice a year at most as box grows slowly. Making sure you are trimming boxwood at the right times of year and properly will ensure great looking structure and forms year round.

Boxwood or box (buxus sempervirens) add structure and formality to a garden at the same time as looking great all year round, even in the depths of winter. As an evergreen shrub having box in your garden means there is something green and structured in the garden when everything else has died back.

Slow Growing Boxwood 

Box is typically quite an expensive plant to buy from nurseries and garden centres because it can take several years to produce an established plant. 

It grows slowly, not much more than 6 inches / 15cm a year in good conditions.

How Often Does Box Need Clipping?

This slow growth means that any clipping and topiary cut into a boxwood will look great for a long period of time. You’ll only need to clip a boxwood twice a year.

Box is one of the plants that you’ll see in formal gardens neatly clipped into hedges with precise right angles. Balls, cones, swirls and even animal shapes can be achieved and because the growth of box is slow the shape will be clear and precise for months on end with no interference.

Maintaining a hedge, ball, cone or shape in a boxwood will only require clipping or trimming twice a year.

Boxwood Ball

When To Clip Boxwood

Trimming box is a twice yearly job so there are two points in the year you should schedule in your diary to do the job.

1st Trim

The first point in the year to clip box is just after the first growth spurt. Around May to mid June. This makes sense as it keeps the form of your box which will have faded after this initial burst of growth in spring.

Box Hedge

2nd Trim

After this first clip you boxwood will look neat and tidy throughout the summer but will still encourage growth.

The next trim should be around September to October. This trim will keep the box looking great throughout winter. 

You will want to do this second trim before there is any chance of frost as clipping will encourage new shoots and they need to harden off before the first frost or the plant will suffer.

What You’ll Need To Clip Boxwood

Box Ball Clipping

I much prefer hand shears to power shears or hedge trimmers as I feel there is a much better level of control, especially when cutting forms or shapes into box. 

That is not to say power shears are not useful if you have a lot of boxwood. Here is what I suggest for pruning boxwood.

Trimming large flat sections of boxwood is easy enough with hand shears and, of course, very quick with a hedge trimmer.

Finer details, curves and precision can be harder with large shears so topiary shears or a set of snips can give crisp lines and angles.

What is vitally important is that the tools you use are really sharp and create clean cuts. Box is prones to blight and various diseases that can quickly ravage a plant and quickly spread to others. Ensuring any clipping creates the cleanest cut will help prevent this.

The bucket of water is to dip the shears in to remove any sticky residue and you’ll find that trimming box will be a lot easier with clean shears with no sticky residue, again this ensures nice clean cuts.

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