Landscaping with boxwood: 10 ways to include this evergreen in your plot

It always looks good and never dates, so landscaping with boxwood is the smart choice for your garden every time

modern garden with lawn and boxwood planting
(Image credit: Ellen Rooney/Alamy Stock Photo)

There's something about landscaping with boxwood (box or buxus if you prefer) that transcends fashion, place and time. Add it to the planting mix in your garden and it will morph into the design whether or not you favor a classical or contemporary look, and will soon look like it's been there for ever. 

Great for introducing smart, clipped formality, box also works well to add structure in more naturalistic planting schemes. The star of the 'lollipops' in pots look, it can also be used for cloud pruning and hedging, as well as a multitude of other ways in flower beds and borders.

On-trend ways of landscaping with boxwood include introducing a series of oversized smooth mounds to add a sculptural look, and pairing it with gravel and boulders for a sharply delineated modernist feel. 

There's just so much you can do with this multi-purpose evergreen that if you've never used it before in your landscaping ideas you'll soon be wondering why. And if you already have it in your garden you'll realise that, actually, you need a lot more.

10 fresh ideas for landscaping with boxwood

Whether your garden is large or small, country or urban, slot in some boxwood to add structure and year round color, and you won't regret it. If you're landscaping with shrubs be sure to add this low maintenance plant to the mix to work as one of the constants in your design.

Garden designers love boxwood too. 'Buxus are tough plants,' says Kate Gould (opens in new tab). 'They can grow into large trees but are equally happy clipped into hedges or shapes. Their green forms add punctuation to lighter planting schemes and can be both traditional and contemporary in feel. They are classical plants that transcend taste and time effortlessly.'

1. Contrast neat boxwood with unstructured grasses

boxwood balls in border with ornamental grasses

Soften formal boxwood with drifts of ornamental grasses

(Image credit: Mark Bolton Photography/Future)

Landscaping with grasses is very on trend at the moment and super easy boxwood will fit right in with it if you're considering this look for your garden. It works by adding punctuation marks to naturalistic planting and introduces crucial structure.

This applies the other way round too as it's good to soften boxwood landscaping with ornamental grasses. 'Every garden needs a degree of structure, be that in evergreen form or clipped formality, but these alone impose a regimented feel to a space,' says Kate Gould. So interspersing grasses with boxwood introduces a light touch that's easier on the eye.

2. Use smart boxwood to add curb appeal

modern front door and front yard with boxwood plants

Create a smart entrance by growing boxwood in large planters near the front door

(Image credit: Numismarty/GettyImages)

Getting your front yard landscaping ideas right is key. Smart hardscaping and neat planting will combine to create the most stylish welcome to your home that looks good 24/7. Clipped evergreen planting that lasts through the seasons is a go-to look, especially near the front door to add year-round interest. 

Easy-care plants that don't need a lot of attention are the way to go and boxwood is ideal for this, either potted up in stylish planters that match the external aesthetic of your house or as part of your broader planting scheme in beds and borders. 

A stylish option for landscaping with evergreens is to use a series of soft boxwood mounds to frame a doorway to perfection, and the only aftercare needed is an occasional light trim to keep things looking shapely.

3. Flank hardscaping with boxwood balls

steps and path edged with mounds of boxwood

Frame the edges of paths and steps with mounds of boxwood

(Image credit: Mabo/Alamy Stock Photo)

You can easily introduce a smart element into your garden edging ideas by including rounded boxwood balls to contrast with the linear qualities of paths, steps and other hardscaping. Clipped box is popular with garden designers as it offers consistent color and shape, and the smooth spheres are very easy on the eye.

Tightly clipped boxwood is a constant whereas other plants come and go, so if you want paths and steps to be flanked by something green, distinctive and interesting all year round make this your go-to choice.

4. Edge a vegetable patch with boxwood

vegetable bed edged with low boxwood hedging

Boxwood can give your vegetable patch a more formal look

(Image credit: BasieB/GettyImages)

If you love the idea of a traditional kitchen garden style vegetable plot aim for a neat and structured layout with clearly defined areas. This formal style is known as a potager garden and tightly clipped boxwood is an ideal low hedging device to divide up different crops.

It also adds an evergreen accent in winter so vegetable plots don't look completely bare with nothing more than exposed soil on show if you're not growing vegetables all year round. 

Landscaping with boxwood lends itself to symmetrical patterns and geometrical designs, so if you want an organized look for your veg patch this is your answer. 

5. Underplant a lollipop boxwood for contrast

clipped box ball tree underplanted with lavender

Add interest with pretty shades of purple

(Image credit: Burton0215/GettyImages)

Neat greenery such as standard boxwood trees clipped into smart pom pom shapes adds a dramatic note to any garden. It's one of the best evergreen trees and the dark glossy leaves look good even in the depths of winter. Adding a layer of underplanting doubles up the wow factor.

Try landscaping with lavender to add color and scent beneath your boxwood tree, or grow chives for the kitchen then let the pale mauve flowers fill the space as an enchanting under storey to the more formal clipped shape. This will softly echo the circular theme as well as providing contrasting texture.

6. Plant up super-sized containers

oversized containers planted up with boxwood

Oversized containers planted with boxwood are ideal as a garden divider

(Image credit: Lee Bestall)

The best small garden ideas usually involve utilizing every last inch of space and making sure everything justifies its inclusion in the finished design. This is where boxwood comes into its own as it adds something for 12 months of the year.

The domes of box in tall garden planters give a regimented but defined feel to this garden design, which features strong linear lines running through the space. The boxwood planters help to zone different areas of the garden as well as enhancing the design all year round. 

'When I think of a beautiful garden, my imagination immediately throws around images of flowers in full bloom, sunshine-drenched borders and general abundance,' says garden designer Lee Bestall (opens in new tab), 'but the reality is that for six months of the year none of this exists and the garden relies on evergreens for structure and form.'  

This is where plants like boxwood come into their own. 'As well as being a timeless classic, they look great covered in warm white fairy lights,' adds Lee.

7. Give structure to flower beds with boxwood

box balls in flower bed with foxgloves

Evergreen planting will ensure your flower beds have year-round color and interest long after the flowers have gone

(Image credit: Future)

All the best flower beds include a combination of color, texture and structure, and boxwood makes a great addition to the mix for low-maintenance garden border ideas. Any look that plays on soft or pastel palettes such as these dreamy foxgloves works well in combination with boxwood. 

These shrubs are an ideal choice to add to your flower garden. Their versatility to define a space and the fact they are easily shaped means they will enhance any garden. They work particularly well if you're planning on landscaping with hydrangeas too as the combination creates a striking contrast. 

If you like something a little bolder, try matching boxwood with different types of cosmos, daylilies or zinnia to add instant color pops against the foil of dark green. You can also try planting taller boxwood shrubs around the perimeter of your flower garden to create some added garden privacy

8. Add a stunning backdrop so the shapes pop

modern garden design with boxwood

Use modern materials for a contemporary backdrop to evergreen planting

(Image credit: London Stone)

There's something about the combination of sleekly burnished corten steel and dark green boxwood that feels so right. Boxwood looks stunning against a backdrop of midnight blue too and really steps up to the plate in terms of statement planting for modern garden ideas

Try landscaping with timber panels and metal sheets for an innovative way of cladding garden walls to create a chic and contemporary backdrop that works particularly well with boxwood as well as other evergreen varieties.

Repetition is everything when it comes to creating the right look, particularly if you want to achieve a more contemporary, minimal design. So take one shrub like boxwood and run with it, creating simple repeat planting patterns to create continuity throughout the design that the eye will pick up on.

9. Light up boxwood as part of your landscaping design

modern garden with boxwood planters lit up

Outdoor lighting will highlight the shapes of clipped boxwood at night

(Image credit: John Davies/Landform Consultants)

Include boxwood trees in your plans for landscaping with lights to bring alive these beauties at night. Even the smallest boxwood plants will become a real focal point at dusk when enhanced with discreet uplights, as shown in this eye-catching setup. As they're being used to top a wall you get the added bonus of interesting shadow play on the render too when the lights come on. 

Boxwood can also be used as a garden room divider as shown in this design, by placing a row of boxwood orbs on a dividing wall to separate different areas of the garden. It's good for split level patio ideas too, as well as for creating separate zones for entertaining, relaxing and alfresco dining.

10. Landscape some topiary boxwood with gravel

boxwood plants landscaped with gravel and boulders

Team topiary with gravel and boulders

(Image credit: Burton0215/GettyImages-)

Clipping boxwood into topiary shapes makes a bold statement that works all year round, adding impact without hours of maintenance. Although often associated with grand country estates topiary also works well in small urban spaces if you choose simple designs as part of your ideas for landscaping with boxwood.

For maximum impact, plant lots of boxwoods together and keep them all clipped into globes that are a similar size. The repetitive curved shapes will add a harmonious quality to your garden that's soothing on the eye.

'I use topiary and evergreen plants and hedges as the backbone to my designs. It can provide the framework upon which other elements of the garden are then subsequently applied,' says garden designer Richard Miers (opens in new tab). 'Using sculpted evergreens is a timelessly elegant way to provide focal points, frame key views around the garden and provide much needed interest in the winter months.'    

If you also love the idea of landscaping with gravel or landscaping with boulders, boxwood is a natural fit with these looks too as this cool design shows.

Where is the best place to plant boxwoods in your landscaping?

The best place to plant boxwoods is largely down to personal choice. Widely used in both formal and casual garden designs, it's one of the easiest shrubs to grow and will thrive in both sun and partial shade. 

There are a multitude of ways to create a striking look by landscaping with boxwood: 

  • As one of the best hedging plants, you can plant boxwood as either a low hedge to divide or edge beds and garden borders, or choose taller varieties that will act as a boundary.
  • Steps up to a front door provide the perfect opportunity to add some wow to your entrance with a selection of smartly clipped boxwood in containers. 
  • Frame your front porch with trimmed lollipop boxwoods planted up in co-ordinating containers. It will make a bold ornamental feature to enhance your entrance.
  • Boxwoods are great plants for your window box ideas, as they require little tending and their dark green leaves act as a complementary backdrop to whatever flowers you choose to plant with them. 
  • Plant boxwood globes as part of your driveway design to greet visitors and be sure to light them up at night with driveway lighting ideas.
  • Mix boxwood plants with gnarly olive trees and gravel to create cool and contemporary Mediterranean garden ideas.
  • Use boxwood shrubs to create a smart privacy hedge as part of your pool landscaping.
  • Fill a patio or deck with groups of potted boxwoods in varying sizes to create a low maintenance planting scheme that looks good all year round.

smart garden with boxwood, lawn and parasol trees

(Image credit: Ellen Rooney/Alamy Stock Photo)
Sarah Wilson
Sarah Wilson

Lifestyle journalist Sarah Wilson has been writing about gardens since 2015. She's written for Gardeningetc.com, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Easy Gardens and Modern Gardens magazines. Her first job on glossy magazines was at Elle, during which time a visit to the legendary La Colombe d'Or in St-Paul-de-Vence led to an interest in all things gardening. Later as lifestyle editor at Country Homes & Interiors magazine the real pull was the run of captivating country gardens that were featured. Having studied introductory garden and landscape design as well as a course in floristry she is currently putting the skills learned to good use in her own space where the dream is establishing a cutting garden.