The Q&A Archives: pruning boxwoods

Question: My boxwood has a dead spot in them. should they be cut closer to the ground and start over? Would they grow back healthier. When should they be pruned or cut back?

Answer: Boxwood can benefit from hard pruning (i.e. 6" deeper than the desired size) just before growth begins in late winter/early spring, as it stimulates a lot of new growth. If the shrub is in dry soil and full sun, water it deeply once per week, less often if the soil retains water well. Give it a balanced (5-5-5) fertilizer this spring. Topdress with a couple inches of compost, too, to enrich the soil. When growth is vigorous, shear the shrubs slightly again in late spring to form the shrub. It may take 2-3 years to get them back in shape, but once they are well filled out again, they will be hardy and require little care.

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