When to Trim Boxwoods for Healthy Growth

An employee from Benson is currently trimming some boxwood bushes.

When it comes to maintaining the landscaping on your property, keeping your plants healthy and orderly is the preferred goal. Sometimes this can be a challenge, especially if your plants need regular pruning. Many plants require pruning, and some of the most common plants that need it are boxwood shrubs. Boxwoods are a highly prevalent type of evergreen shrub used in landscaping. With their hardiness and adaptability, they make for a prime choice for hedges and other botanical displays that will remain standing even through the winter. At Benson Enterprises, we understand the necessity of pruning and have put together a guide to the best time to prune boxwood, along with a few tips on how to best trim them. 

Best Time to Prune Your Boxwoods

Effective pruning relies on knowing the appropriate time to trim them. Trimming at the wrong time and at the wrong frequency can leave you with dead or damaged shrubs that cannot grow properly, or overgrown, shapeless shrubs that lack visual appeal. Finding the right time and regularity to keep them healthy is necessary if you want them to look their best. You will want to look at the best season and the proper frequency to ensure this. 


A common time to trim your boxwood shrubs is in the springtime, and often early spring. At this time of year, boxwoods begin their cycle of new growth, experiencing a spring flush and developing fresh stems and leaves. Pruning helps to promote brand-new growth as well, and in turn, this increases the rate at which new branches grow during the spring.  

At Benson Enterprises, however, we do our pruning services in the summer and early fall. Given that boxwoods are evergreen, trimming them later in the year allows time for the new branches to mature and reach their peak growth. You can, however, trim off dead and diseased branches at any time when they are found in order to prevent further spread or damage. 


Boxwoods are generally low-maintenance shrubs when it comes to care, but to prevent overgrowth and retain their proper shape, pruning is necessary. The frequency you need to prune them is based on age and shape, but overall, it is an annual process for young and old shrubs alike. 

Young shrubs require more trimming during the first few years of their life during peak growing season. Continuous trimming at one point each year will help to promote consistent, healthy growth. With yearly trimming and dead branch removal, you’ll have boxwoods with great shape and great health, making the upkeep easier the older they get. 

Benefits of Pruning

How you prune your boxwoods is just as vital as when you need to trim them, and it should be a prioritized routine. Regularly trimming your shrubs to remove old leaves and stems offers a variety of benefits to their health and appearance. Here are a few reasons pruning boxwoods is important:  

Encourages Healthy Growth

One of the main advantages of pruning is that it stimulates new growth in a shrub. With the old branches removed, sunlight can be evenly distributed throughout the shrub and allow for more effective photosynthesis and balanced regrowth.  

Gets Rid of Dead Branches and Disease

Boxwood shrubs are very dense plants, and that leaves little room for both new growth and dead stems. Removing dead branches through trimming can reduce the risks of dead growth choking out your boxwoods or fungal disease. Poor air circulation due to overgrowth can lead to the development of fungus on the core of the shrub, and it can result in poor growth patterns. Through pruning, air can circulate properly and improve your boxwoods’ resistance to fungal growth and disease.  

Reduces Drainage Issues

When shrubs grow out of shape, it can affect the drainage beneath the plant. Overwatering can waterlog an overgrown boxwood, and result in root rot and decreased growth. Managing your shrubs makes it easier to adjust your watering routine and prevent this.  

Overall Curb Appeal

While the health of your boxwoods is a top priority, the general visual appeal is just as important. Given that they are commonly trimmed into distinct shapes, you want to maintain the structure you’ve established for them. Having overgrown or dying shrubs on your property is a detriment to your curb appeal. With a regular trimming schedule, your landscaping always looks fresh and organized.   

Pruning Tips and Techniques

With the appropriate time in mind for pruning, it’s also important to know what to do and what to avoid when it’s time to trim your boxwoods. These tips and techniques can help to ensure the pruning done on your shrubs is safe and thorough.  

What to Do

  • Using the Right Tools: Handheld pruning shears are great for shaping boxwoods and can limit susceptibility to diseases. For more unruly shrubs, a folding handsaw offers effective cuts.  
  • One-Third Rule: If your shrubs are overgrown, it’s important to not remove more than one-third of the shrub’s mass. The process may take a few years, with one-third being removed each year until you reach the desired shape.  
  • Getting Creative: Consider how you want your boxwood to look and get creative. Through trimming and thinning, you can form neat hedges or create geometric shapes for topiaries. Boxwoods are versatile and can be made into well-structured hedge rows for pathways, as well as bold shapes to decorate a garden or the corners of your house outside. 

What Not to Do

  • Using Unclean Tools: Always disinfect your tools before use and between uses with 70% alcohol. Diseases like boxwood blight can spread quickly, especially through pruning with unwashed tools.  
  • Over-shearing: Limit the amount of shearing you do for your shrubs. Shearing too much at once can cause the boxwood to form outer growth and dead branches at its core. This leads to weak structure and diseases.  

Notable Boxwood Species

There are over 140 types of boxwoods to choose from, making it fairly easy to select the ones that best fit your property. Listed below are just a few kinds that are commonly planted by our team and thrive well in the Rochester area:  

  • Winter Gem: Small-leaved and vibrant, these boxwoods are a great choice for small hedges and garden definition. Their beautiful foliage can also make them excellent for simple topiaries.  
  • Green Velvet: This species is great for full-bodied and low hedges. It develops a rounded shape as it grows and makes for an attractive container plant.  
  • Green Mountain: The tall, conical form of this species offers great opportunities for mass plantings and shaped hedges. Their color remains strong through the winter, and they’re deer and rabbit-resistant. 
The Benson worker is trimming the boxwood.

How We Use Boxwoods

Homeowners commonly use boxwood shrubs for borders pathways and decorative displays, and often they’re trimmed into distinctive shapes and structures to create a stunning look on the property. At Benson Enterprises, we offer planting and trimming for boxwoods, along with professional landscape designing services to create intricate pathway hedges, privacy hedges, or beautiful background greenery for your gardens. They are great accents and structural pieces for landscaping and can significantly enhance the curb appeal of your property. 

Schedule Pruning with Benson Enterprises

We value the care that goes into well-maintained shrubs and plants at Benson Enterprises. Our expert team offers regular, professional pruning services to keep your property looking healthy and beautiful. Contact us today to schedule a service!  

Call Today For A Free Estimate (585) 248-0452

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