Katy Elliott

A daily design journal about new england life, home decorating resources, and renovating a 257-year-old house in Marblehead, MA.

Putting in Boxwoods

Posted on | May 11, 2010 | 21 Comments

Yeah we got the boxwoods in last night! Greg was a great help and super patient. I choose the Buxus hybrid ‘Green Velvet’ boxwoods after asking a lot of garden experts and researching boxwoods suitable for my particular region. What I learned: boxwoods are hardy. They don’t like wind, salt, or really scorching sun. In the winter I plan to wrap my boxwoods in burlap to protect them from winter conditions. And a word of warning, English boxwoods are lovely but they smell like musk or cat piss. So don’t plant them next to your front door.

I got the biggest boxwoods I could. Boxwoods grow really slow—about an inch a year. They were expensive ($65 each) but I didn’t want little dinky shrubs out front. Eventually it will grow into a beautiful shaggy hedge. But I will have many lovely years of them as round beautiful green globes.

The root balls were really large. We had to dig down about a foot. Use a tape measure otherwise you’ll break your back pulling the heavy shrubs in and out of the holes. I sprinkled some fresh healthy dirt in the holes and soaked with water.

Once we got all four holes dug we placed each of the boxwoods in their tentative homes. We doubled checked for spacing and height. Remember to step away from the plants. I ran back and forth across the street at least 10 times shouting orders to Greg, “A little to the left, now up, now down.” Once the plants were to my satisfaction we backfilled the garden with the existing dirt mixed with some fresh new stuff. I gave the shrubs a good soak and we called it a night. I love them!

p.s. someday I hope to have window boxes and shutters on all five windows. Maybe next summer after the house gets painted?

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New Perennials In Garden: May 2010
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21 Responses to “Putting in Boxwoods”

  1. chelsea
    May 11th, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

    wow those are nice boxwoods and the price actually seems pretty reasonable for a boxwood of that size. they look great.


  2. Daron
    May 11th, 2010 @ 5:16 pm

    Some of the first shrubs my parents put in when they moved were boxwoods, fast-forward 4 years later and they look great. The only problem is the rabbits, they don’t eat them, just carve out the base a little Apparently their dense nature makes for excellent bunny shelters.


  3. kristin
    May 11th, 2010 @ 5:17 pm

    Those look really nice. The colour is great against the siding. Are you sure they’re not too close to the house, though? Do they grow more up than out?


  4. mopar
    May 11th, 2010 @ 6:18 pm

    Beautiful. What an accomplishment. We have the same variety, I had forgotten the name.


  5. Katy Elliott
    May 11th, 2010 @ 6:31 pm


    They stay compact. They can be pruned. They grow so slow it will hardly be a problem.


  6. Ms. Jen
    May 11th, 2010 @ 8:00 pm

    They look wonderful. Great choice! Window boxes would be fantastic. As far as painting the house, will you keep it the same color?


  7. Jennifer
    May 11th, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

    They look great! They really soften the facade, and I can envision the future window boxes!


  8. Christina
    May 11th, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

    They look great now and will look beautiful as they mature…totally spruces up the front! Congratulations…


  9. Katy Elliott
    May 11th, 2010 @ 9:48 pm

    Ms. Jen,

    Color is changing to dark grey or brownish grey. Black Shutters or Dark Green Shutters, both options white trim.

    Also the front door need moulding around the door. It was ripped out when a drunk driver hit it in the 1980’s.


  10. Don
    May 11th, 2010 @ 10:03 pm

    Good pick. Just wait until they’re a bit older before you get all Edward Scissorhands on them (like me). Just got mine rounded again.


  11. Kristin G.
    May 12th, 2010 @ 12:12 am

    LOVE. They look so good. Excellent Choice.


  12. Betsy Elliott
    May 12th, 2010 @ 8:06 am

    Thumbs up…they look fantastic in front of your house! Don’t underestimate their growth rate. I bought tiny cheapies from home depot and they are almost three feet in diameter after less than five years! I guess if they like their home, they flourish.


  13. Doreen
    May 12th, 2010 @ 9:43 am

    Follow your progress – love your plant choices – boxwoods look wonderful and will only get better!


  14. Kathleen
    May 12th, 2010 @ 3:26 pm

    That explains it. I must have English boxwoods. Your description of the smell was spot-on.


  15. Katy Elliott
    May 12th, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

    Oh no Kathleen! Some people love the musky smell! Hopefully you do too!


  16. Tina
    May 14th, 2010 @ 9:30 am

    We too planted box and our tiny yard is similar to yours – right on the sidewalk and street. Although our thoughts are with summer now, keep in mind snow plows and where you pile up your shoveled snow. Our poor little boxwoods got crushed. Hoping you do your window boxes this year, not next!


  17. Katy Elliott
    May 14th, 2010 @ 9:56 am

    Hi Tina,

    Thanks for the tip. Over the winter I watched where our snow went when the plows came by. It actually builds up in the street next to the sidewalk and never makes it into the garden.

    If the snow went into the garden the boxwoods would not survive the salt/snow.


  18. Ann Shumbo
    May 15th, 2010 @ 11:24 am

    Love Love Love how the boxwoods look. I didn’t realize how expensive they are – out here I always buy my plants from Home Depot vs. the Nursery as they have a one year return policy if anything dies – just FYI. and they are not that expensive here. Could be we have them all year round. I wanted them for our planters on our balcony but went with topiary gardenias instead. The plants look great. Love watching your garden grow. Our neighbors are doing an edible garden I should take a picture for you. Love the idea of shutters and window boxes. Have you ever considered a dutch door? That would be so great on the front of your house.


  19. janice
    May 15th, 2010 @ 11:53 am

    I guess Boxwoods just bring out the writer in all of us!?! I love yours; they look fabulous! You may already have thought of the wood frame “protectors” we use in Maine to protect shrubs from salt and ice – just some wood scraps nailed together to make an upside-down-V -shaped-thing that goes over the plant- or whatever shape you need – just a thought for the future in case the salt and snow proves to be more than your shrubs can tolerate. Thanks for your blog. I LOVE it.


  20. lizzie
    May 24th, 2010 @ 9:02 am

    The paint color combination you described in the comments section here sounds so striking yet homey. I can’t wait to see it.


  21. Liz
    June 10th, 2010 @ 3:39 pm

    I planted boxwoods too a couple of years ago. I didnt know a bush could grow so slowly… but they’re still lovely. My hostas, on the other hand, are almost as big as the bushes and they’re only a year old. Go figure.


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