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How Far Apart To Plant Boxwoods

Boxwood trees are highly favored for ornamental purposes, widely used for crafting stunning topiary figures and garden bonsai. Their popularity has soared, especially as hedge plants, prompting questions from gardeners about the required spacing for these plants.

Typically, for creating hedges or foundation plantings, dwarf or small boxwoods should be planted at a distance of 2 to 3 feet apart. For slightly larger varieties, a spacing of 3 to 4 feet is advisable. It’s noteworthy that the largest boxwood varieties have the potential to expand up to 20 feet in width, although achieving this growth takes many years.

Boxwood Hedge Spacing

Name How far apart to plant boxwood for hedge (center to center)
Japanese boxwood 1 ft (30 cm) apart
Korean boxwood 2 ft (60 cm) apart
Green Velvet 1 ft (30 cm) apart
Green Gem 1 ft (30 cm) apart
Baby Jade 2 ft (60 cm) apart
Baby Gem 1 ft (30 cm) apart
Dwarf boxwoods 1 ft (30 cm) apart
Wintergreen boxwood 2 ft (60 cm) apart
Green Mountain 1 ft (30 cm) apart
Buxus sempervirens 2 ft (60 cm) apart
Winter gem 1 ft (30 cm) apart

Dwarf boxwoods should be planted about 1 foot apart. This way you can get a dense hedge relatively quickly.

Larger boxwoods should be planted 2 feet apart or even more. However, keep in mind that the greater the distance between the shrubs, the longer it will take to get a dense hedge.

Distance between boxwood as a specimen plant

If you are planting boxwood as a specimen plant in your garden, the distance to other plants should be at least 3 feet. There should be enough space around the boxwood for air exchange and good light.

Name How far apart to plant boxwood (center to center)
Japanese boxwood 3 ft (90 cm) apart
Korean boxwood 4 ft (120 cm) apart
Green Velvet 3 ft (90 cm) apart
Green Gem 3 ft (90 cm) apart
Baby Jade 2 ft (60 cm) apart
Baby Gem 2.5 ft (75 cm) apart
Dwarf boxwoods  1.5 ft (45 cm) – 3 ft (90 cm) apart
Wintergreen boxwood 3.5 ft (100 cm) apart
Green Mountain 2 ft (60 cm) apart
Buxus sempervirens 4 ft (120 cm) apart
Winter gem 1.5 ft (45 cm) apart

Japanese Boxwood (Buxus microphylla)

Ideal for compact spaces, the Japanese boxwood typically grows to a width of 4 feet (1.2 m) and a height of 6 feet (1.8 m). When planting, allow a space of 3 feet (90 cm) from center to center for each plant, adding an extra foot for improved air circulation. For hedge cultivation, plant them 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) apart.

Green Velvet

This boxwood hybrid reaches a mature width of 4 feet (1.2 m). Plant other species at least 3 feet (90 cm) away for optimal growth. When forming a hedge, reduce spacing to about 2 feet (50-60 cm). Its moderate growth rate and spherical to slightly oval shape minimize pruning needs.

Green Gem

A compact boxwood variety, Green Gem does not exceed 4 feet in width. Space it 3 feet apart from other garden plants. For hedge formation, plant them with a 2-foot distance between centers.

What to Do When Boxwood Grows Too Close?

Boxwoods, often planted small, can grow and start crowding each other over time, leading to misshapen plants and poor air circulation that promotes fungal growth.

Transplanting Boxwood

One solution is to transplant the boxwood. The ideal transplanting times are mid-spring or early fall, varying slightly depending on your climate zone. Choose a rainy or cloudy day for transplanting and water the boxwood well a few days prior. Early morning or evening is the best time for this task.

Carefully dig up the bush with a shovel, ensuring the roots remain intact and keeping as much of the root ball as possible. When relocating, dig a hole twice as big as the root ball and fill it with a half-and-half mix of garden soil and compost.

Place the boxwood in the hole without burying the trunk, even slightly. Fill the remaining space with the soil mixture and compact it with your feet. Water the plant generously and add more soil if necessary.

Pruning Boxwood

Another approach to manage space issues is pruning. Boxwoods respond well to pruning, making them popular for topiary.

The best time for pruning is when the annual shoots are mature, typically in early to mid-summer. Use sharp pruning shears to shape the bush, trimming medium-thickness branches. Avoid cutting more than a third of the plant in a single year.

Regular pruning throughout the summer helps maintain shape and encourages healthy growth. Keep the plants compact; for instance, a ten-year-old boxwood in my garden has been maintained at a height and width of three feet.

Planting Boxwood Shrubs Near Your House

Concerns about boxwoods damaging house foundations often arise when considering planting them close to a home. While it’s true that very large and robust plants can cause issues, regular pruning of boxwoods typically prevents them from causing significant damage. However, it’s still advisable not to plant these shrubs too close to walls.

For dwarf boxwoods, maintain a distance of 3-4 feet from your house. Larger boxwood varieties should be planted at least 6 feet away. This guideline is also applicable when planting near fences with concrete foundations or other similar structures.