Boxwood: 8 Ways to Use Evergreens to Create Curb Appeal

Barbara Chambers house in Mill Valley, CA

Some container plants are too much trouble. Not boxwood. It’s easy to create curb appeal with this evergreen shrub because well-behaved box won’t lose its leaves, outgrow its pot, or clash with other colors. Here are nine of our favorite ways to use boxwood as a container plant:

Global Thinking

Barbara Chambers house in Mill Valley, CA
Above: Architect Barbara Chambers flanks an entryway at her house in Mill Valley, California with identical terra cotta planters and boxwood topiaries. Photograph by David Livingston courtesy of Chambers + Chambers.

Emphasize the geometry of a round boxwood ball by planting it in a round or square pot. If you’re looking for simple wooden planters to complement the round shape of boxwood balls, see 10 Easy Pieces: Wooden Planters.

1+1 Equation


Above: Photograph courtesy of Janice Parker Landscape Architects. For more of this garden, see Ask the Expert: 8 Ways to Create Pattern in a Landscape.

Go Shaggy


Above: A loose topiary look can also work, as shown by the slightly shaggy boxwood hedges at Dan Pearson’s Old Rectory, in the heart of a Cotswolds village. Photograph by Nicola Browne and Dan Pearson Studio.

For more garden design ideas using boxwood, see Gardenista Roundup: For the Love of Boxwood.



Above: Photograph courtesy of Franchesca Watson. For more of this garden, see Garden Designer Visit: A Study in Green by Franchesca Watson.

Asymmetrical groupings of planters work well because they all repeat a single theme: boxwood.

Scatter Pattern


Above: Clipped boxwood adds structure to an informal garden. Photograph by Mimi Giboin.

Choose Wisely


Above: Boxwood ‘Green Velvet’ is a hardy hybrid that holds a clipped shape easily; available seasonally from Wayside Gardens.

There are more than 70 species of boxwood, of which the most common in Europe and the US is Buxus sempervirens.

Varieties of Buxus sempervirens have widely different characteristics. For instance, ‘Green Gem’ is a slow grower and tolerates cold well. ‘Green Mountain’, which grows quickly and in a rounded cone shape, is a good choice for a hedge. ‘Fastigiata’ is tall and skinny with blue-tinged leaves. ‘Suffruticosa’ is the classic English box with soft, rounded leaves.

In containers, consider planting miniature box. Varieties of Buxus microphylla include ‘John Baldwin’, which grows in a conical shape; ‘Green Beauty’, a good substitute for English box if you have full sun; and ‘Green Pillow’, with a dense and low growth pattern.

Clipping Service

Boxwood hedges by Britt Willoughby Dyer
Above: Photograph by Britt Willoughby Dyer.

For our boxwood growing guide, see Field Guide: Boxwood.

Boxwood is extremely easy going; you can clip it into balls–or into spheres, cones, or more fanciful shapes–and it will hold its shape for months.

Feeling whimsical? To see how to shape a shrub into a boxwood bear or boxwood bird, visit a reader’s Secret Garden: Fanciful Topiary in the Berkshires.

Cloud Pruning

Above: Photograph courtesy of Niwaki.

For visual interest, place a planter  with a tightly clipped boxwood ball in the foreground against a backdrop of cloud pruned shrubs. For more on cloud pruning techniques, see 10 Garden Ideas to Steal from Japan.

For more instant curb appeal, read 11 Ways to Add Curb Appeal for Under $100.
N.B.: Concerned about boxwood blight? Kendra has some suggestions about How to Eliminate Boxwood Blight.

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