One of the most versatile shrubs, box grows well in a range of different situations and soils to bring year-around colour to the garden. Native to the UK, did you know that boxwood shrubs have been grown in gardens here since Roman times?

In a recent Pots & Trowels video, Martin Fish shared his expert tips and advice for keeping your box hedge or standalone shrub in tip top shape this summer. You can watch the video below, or keep reading for all the tips, tricks and equipment you need to keep your box shrub looking its best.

When Should I Trim My Box Shrub?

June is the traditional time to do a bit of box shrub trimming. Historically, this used to happen on Derby Day, as the gardeners would do it when the owners of the house had gone off to the races!

A pair of sharp, lightweight shears such as the DP400 Darlac Lightweight Shears are ideal for trimming box shrubs

What Do I Need to Trim My Box Shrub?

There’s various ways to trim your box, depending on the size of your shrub. A hedge trimmer is ideal if you’ve got low hedges or want to create big shapes.

If you don’t want to use a hedge trimmer, a good old-fashioned pair of sharp, lightweight shears – such as the DP400 Darlac Lightweight Shears – are ideal. Using shears may take a little bit longer than using a hedge trimmer, but you can really pay attention to the details and sculpture what you’re doing, which is certainly worth it if you’re looking to really perfect the shape of your shrub.

Or some people like to use shears such as the DP1850 Expert Topiary Shear, which are based more on traditional sheep shearing shears. If you’ve got intricate small shapes, you can get into all those nooks and crannies with shears like these. They cut just like a pair of scissors, it’s just a case of working your way around the shrub and taking off any new excess growth.

How to Trim a Box Shrub

The main point to trimming your shrub is to identify the lush new growth and take that off. You don’t have to cut too hard at all, or go into the really old wood, you can just more or less take off just the new growth and keep the shape of your shrub and that will do the trick.

The secret is to stop now and again, stand back and take a look, and make sure you’ve got an even shape all around. You can always take a bit more off, but you can’t put it back on once it’s gone!

The DP1850 Expert Topiary Shear is perfect for creating intricate shapes with your shrubs

Box Shrub Care and Maintenance Tips

Some people worry about growing box, as box blight is a big problem in some parts of the country, or worry about box moth caterpillar that can eat them and cause an awful lot of damage.

Sometimes with box blight itself, if the box is trimmed too hard and then fed with a high nitrogen fertiliser that encourages soft, lush growth, that’s the perfect growth that the blight spores can get into to cause damage.

If you grow your box a little bit harder, in other words you don’t feed it as much to encourage that lush growth, and you don’t clip it as hard, then you shouldn’t have as many problems with box blight. If you don’t clip your box too hard and keep your shrub quite loose and airy, so you get plenty of wind blowing through it, it makes it much more difficult for any box blight spores to establish and grow in there, as it’s open to the elements. That should hopefully keep your shrub nice and healthy.

Don't worry about orange leaves on your shrub, as they're not a sign of disease or blight

If you find any leaves that have an almost orangey tinge to them, that isn’t disease or blight, that’s just nutritional or weather damage. Sometimes when the leaves go a little orange, it’s just telling you that at some point the shrub has been a little bit hungry, so don’t worry about that.

After you’ve trimmed your box shrub, the last thing you want to do is give it a feed. As mentioned before, don’t give it a high nitrogen feed as the high nitrogen will promote lots of green leaf – which we do want – but we also need to balance it out.

A high potash feed, the sort of things you’d give tomatoes, is ideal as it’s got some nitrogen in there, but it also contains phosphate and a higher percentage of the potash. What this will do is encourage some growth, but the potash helps to toughen that growth, and helps with winter hardiness and disease resistance. Give your shrub a good feed all the way round about once a week to encourage some nice, healthy growth, so that it greens up and looks really good all through the summer months.

Feed your shrub a high potash week once a week to encourage healthy growth

The very last thing to do is sweep up and get rid of all the box clippings (you can always put down a plastic sheet or some tarpaulin to catch the clippings for easy cleaning). The clippings can be composted and will rot down if you mix them with other material.

Where to Buy Darlac Tools

Make life a little easier for yourself by using the right garden tool for the job. You can find our Darlac products in store from your local garden centre. Find your local Darlac stockist here.

If you enjoyed this blog post and the Pots & Trowels video, be sure to subscribe to Pots & Trowels on YouTube and to follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for weekly practical videos all about gardening.

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