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How to Plant Boxwood Hedges

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Getting a Straight Hedgerow
Picture showing how to get hedgerows straight.

Picture showing how to get hedgerows straight.

David Beaulieu

I'm replacing a patchy grassy area with a planting bed, starting with the hedge featured in this project. A hedge creates a good visual separation between two areas of the yard. Compact varieties of boxwood shrubs are some of the best for such borders, since they keep their leaves in winter, are amenable to pruning and stay compact, giving borders a tidy look.

I want my planting bed to be rectangular, the long sides of which will be comprised of:

  1. A fence on one end
  2. My hedge on the other

I begin by running a tape measure along the ground to mark the length of the hedge (at its approximate location). I have 15 boxwoods and will be spacing them 12" on center. So to give myself a trench with some room to spare, I'm running the tape measure 20'.

With a rubber mallet or hammer, I pound a stake at each end of this 20' stretch. Then I tie a string from one stake to the other.

Next, I ensure the hedge trench will run parallel to the fence. I begin by measuring out from fence, running my tape measure to one end of the string I've just installed. I note the measurement thus taken. I then measure from fence to string at the other end, hoping the two measurements will be equal (thus giving me parallel lines). Since the measurements are not, in fact, perfectly equal on the first try, I adjust the stakes accordingly. I then use spray paint to mark the line (so it will be easier for you to see on the Web).

In Step 3 I begin the trench....

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