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Old 07-29-2009, 08:31 AM
Acorn
 
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Miniature boxwood lined walkway---questions

I have a colonial house---just re-did the entire porch and have a fresh slate on which to begin landscaping. I tend to lean toward a more formal style, and would really like to have boxwood serve as the skeleton (so to speak) of the design. We have a curved walk that goes to the front porch, and I would like to line the walk with English dwarf boxwoods. I want them to be no taller than 2ft. or so, so I'm hoping that this variety will be my best bet.
My question is this... My neighbors gravitate to a more informal style of landscaping and have scared me off of the "hedge" idea. I on the other hand do not like the look of boxwood mounds left natural, mulched in between. I'm looking for something more lush, so was thinking of placing them about 2 ft. apart (is this too far? I've read anywhere from 1-2 foot which imo is a big jump!) As they grow, I would like them to mesh together to form a kind of hedge which would serve as a backdrop for some lower perennials to line the walk.

Is this a 'dated' look? Our neighborhood is full of overly sheared hedges/bushes that look like lollipops and I obviously don't want that look, although I'm not sure how to AVOID it! LOL How do I get a hedged look that is formal, not dated? I've been searching the internet for pictures and all I can find is the very formal perfectly trimmed hedges. This would be way too much maintenance. Is there somewhere in between? Perhaps shearing the top ever so slightly and letting the bottom go natural?

Isn't it considered "formal" (rather than dated) to repeat the same plant (like boxwoods) as a framework and then add in other perennials? I see it done in formal gardens and it looks beautiful, not dated (although it certainly can when done wrong.) I'm asking--how do I go about doing it the "right" way?
This is where I am:

1.) I will use English dwarf boxwood because it will not get larger than 2 ft.
2.) I will space the boxwood about 2 feet apart when planting.

(Am I on the right track with these 3 things?)
Questions remain:
1.) Do I really need to leave 3 feet on either side of the walkway when planting them? That just seems like a really wide bed.
2.) What is the most modern way to trim them so they appear 'formal' not dated---but still give me a 'hedged' look---NOT little clumps of shrubs with mulch in between.

Thanks in advance for your advice and opinions
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Old 07-29-2009, 12:15 PM
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Joannemb,

My thoughts are this:
Dwarf English Boxwoods actually get 2-3 ft. tall and 2-4 ft. wide, this is why you need a bed of 3 ft. wide minimum, especially if you will be planting perennials in front of the boxwood.

Boxwoods grow slowly, so it's going to take a while to get the hedge look you want. It is recommended that you plant them atleast 2 ft. apart, but it will take a long time to achieve the look you are wanting, so you could go with 18" apart, although ten years down the road you could have a problem. So, either be patient and wait longer for them to grow together, or plant closer and deal with the possible consequences down the road!

Boxwoods are a formal shrub by nature. The natural shape of this variety is slightly rounded and quite nice. I wouldn't worry about pruning them until you have seen their natural growth pattern over a whole growing season or two. And of course, the less you prune them the quicker they will grow together.

Good luck!
designrtx
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Old 07-29-2009, 02:27 PM
Acorn
 
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Thank you! That was very helpful. I was just at the garden center and a man there selling me on green velvet boxwood (which my neighbor has in her yard and gets BIG---3-4 foot. He said since English dwarf is so hard to find, green velvet would be a fine substitute as long I keep the bushes pruned to the size I want.

I'm new to landscaping (first house) and I'm wondering if that will be a lot of work to keep up with---considering I will have 40-50 boxwoods lining the walk/porch. What are your thoughts? Do they grow so slowly that pruning so many of them (keeping them rounded and around 2 ft.) wouldn't be that big of a deal? Would you recommend clipping rather than shearing? Thanks again for the help~
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Old 07-29-2009, 09:01 PM
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Let's start with your choice of boxwood. There are positives and negatives for many varieties including English. I would recommend that you look through the boxwood guide that I'm attaching so you can make a choice that will serve you well.
Also, boxwood should be clipped or 'plucked' - not sheared. The reasons are for the shrubs' health, not just personal taste.
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Old 07-29-2009, 10:12 PM
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Fine Edge is just really nice Fine Edge is just really nice Fine Edge is just really nice Fine Edge is just really nice Fine Edge is just really nice
Lanelle is right on track - no shearing of the boxwoods. If you want to shear something, use a smaller type of holly such as "Soft Touch", although it wouldn't give you the look you desire.
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Old 07-30-2009, 07:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lanelle View Post
Let's start with your choice of boxwood. There are positives and negatives for many varieties including English. I would recommend that you look through the boxwood guide that I'm attaching so you can make a choice that will serve you well.
Also, boxwood should be clipped or 'plucked' - not sheared. The reasons are for the shrubs' health, not just personal taste.
Best of the Best
Good luck,
Thank you for the infomation.... I have to say that every time I read through a link on varieties of boxwood I end up more confused than when I started. As soon as I think I've found a dwarf version, I read something that says it gets to be 4'.... Is that really considered dwarf? I was thinking English dwarf, but it is impossible to find here, and although it is supposed to do ok in zone 5, the link you provided said the winter can be hard on it. After searching for several specific varieties that I thought would meet my needs (with no luck---I do not want to buy online) I think I am going to have to go with Green velvet. It is readily available here (pretty much everywhere) and will be easy to get if I need to replace a plant. It grows really well here (zone 5) as I have several neighbors who have it in their front yard---similar conditions to where I will put mine.

The down side: I just worry about keeping them small.... after all I will be planting 40 or so of them. I have no idea what I'm getting into regarding pruning. I obviously don't want huge 3-4 ft. boxwoods along the walkway. 2' would be fine.... Do you think it is feasable to keep the green velvets to that size?

Thanks again for everyone's suggestions/help
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Old 07-30-2009, 08:03 AM
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There are several varieties listed in the 'very dwarf' section of that guide that will stay small. Are none of them hardy and available in your area? If not, please know that Green Velvet is one of the most beautiful varieties that you can plant. Just keep an eye on it for leaf miner (insect). This is treatable and shouldn't be a deal breaker.
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Old 07-30-2009, 12:31 PM
Acorn
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lanelle View Post
There are several varieties listed in the 'very dwarf' section of that guide that will stay small. Are none of them hardy and available in your area? If not, please know that Green Velvet is one of the most beautiful varieties that you can plant. Just keep an eye on it for leaf miner (insect). This is treatable and shouldn't be a deal breaker.
Maybe it's the time of year. Right now, green gem, varar valley and green velvet seem to be the basic 3 everyone has in stock and can readily order. Some nurseries said at Spring they have a better variety, but we have absolutely nothing but mud in front of our house right now (ripped it all out while having the front porch done) and I'd just hate to wait almost a year....
I do love the look of green velvet (I know the gem is smaller, but I don't like the lighter green color of it at all.) Thanks for the encouragement regarding the choice!
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