By: Teo Spengler
Boxwood is an extremely popular low maintenance shrub in the home landscape. In fact, one of the primary complaints about the plant is how frequently used it is. There are also some very destructive diseases that attack it. You may be in the market for substitutes for boxwood to make your yard unique or to avoid pest issues. Happily, there are many alternatives to boxwood.
Appropriate boxwood replacements come in different sizes and hues. Read on for tips on great plants to replace boxwood shrubs.
Boxwood is a fabulous shrub when you are creating a garden, easy-care and tolerant of sheering and shaping. It is not without issues though. Pests are one. First, there was boxwood blight, then the box tree caterpillar was found to be decimating these foundation plants.
So, whether you are tired of boxwood or fighting boxwood pests, it may be time to consider boxwood alternatives. Plants to replace boxwood won’t be exactly like your boxwood shrubs, but they each offer some advantages.
Substitutes for Boxwood
One of the best alternatives to boxwood is inkberry (Ilex glabra), an evergreen holly. People love these plants as replacements for boxwood since they have a similar look. Inkberry has small leaves and a rounded habit that makes it look a bit like boxwood. In addition, the plants grow into a hedge faster than boxwood. They are low care and drought resistant too. It even has small white spring flowers that develop into black berries.
Another plant to consider is dwarf evergreen Pyracomeles Juke Box®. This plant can easily be mistaken for boxwood with its tiny, glossy leaves and small branches. It grows into a ball to 3 feet (one meter) tall and wide.
Another of the fine boxwood alternatives is Anna’s Magic Ball arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Anna van Vloten’). It also has that nice rounded habit that reminds you of boxwood and remains vibrant all year long. Anna’s Magic Ball is a bright, glowing shade of yellow only one foot (30 cm.) tall and compact.
Privets are great plants to replace boxwood too. Check out Golden Vicary privet (Ligustrom x ‘Vicaryi’), which grows quite large, to 12 feet (4 m.) tall and 9 feet (3 m.) wide. This plant also grows faster than boxwood and tolerates sheering into a formal hedge. The foliage is a standout yellow with a faint pink blush in fall and a deep purple hue in winter.
For a smaller privet, go with Ligustrum ‘Sunshine’ that averages 6 feet (2 m.) tall and half that wide. Its small leaves give it the same texture as boxwoods.
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20 Best Boxwood Shrubs to Plant in Your Garden
Here's how to choose a disease-resistant variety of one of America's most popular shrubs.
Boxwoods are a classic garden shrub, first planted in America in the mid-1600s. They're equally at home as accents, hedges, topiaries, or in containers. They're also deer-resistant, so their popularity has skyrocketed in recent years.
Unfortunately, many kinds of boxwoods are susceptible to an incurable fungal disease called boxwood blight. The fungus appears as brown spots on leaves until all foliage dries up and drops. Warm, humid conditions help it spread—and plants die within months!
To improve your odds of keeping your landscape healthy, buy boxwoods that are more disease-resistant like the ones featured here, and don't plant them too close together so air can circulate. And even if you never pay attention to those mile-long scientific names, it's essential now so you get the specific variety, size, and form you want.
Here's which boxwoods—and a few lookalikes—to consider for your garden.
Leucothoe is a great shrub for bringing in color to your landscape. Its waxy leaves range from dark green to deep red and its clustered flowers are small and bell shaped. It is great for partly shaded landscapes and attracts pollinators. Grows up to 4 feet wide and 5 feet tall.
Inkberry hollies are a great replacement for the typical boxwood. It is great for yards with deer and rabbit problems, and will tolerate wet soil. Minimal maintenance is required unless you want to keep it as a hedge. There are separate male and female plants, so if you want them to grow berries, make sure to get a pollinator! Grows up to 8 feet tall and wide. The Shamrock variety only grows up to 4 feet.
‘Grey Owl’ Juniper- Juniperus virginiana
The Grey owl variety of juniper is a great, low growing shrubs that has many uses. It can tolerate drought, deer, dry soil, shallow-rocky soil, and air pollution, and it is also great for erosion control. It has an attractive blue-green leaf and red bark. For anyone who is a fan of gin, make sure to get both a male and female variety so that the female with produce cones! Grows up to 3 feet tall and 6 feet wide.
Of course, any shrub that you let grow wild is going to keep growing! Make sure to give them the proper care and pruning they need to stay the size that you want. Choosing smaller sized starters will take longer to fill in, but also take longer to become overgrown!
Call us now for a free estimate to get your old shrubs removed and replaced with some of these great options!
How to Choose Foundation Plants for the Front Yard
Low growing evergreen shrubs are great choice as landscaping plants for the front yard
Some excellent shrubs such as boxwood, wintercreeper, rhododendrons, and holly are all suitable foundation plants. These short, evergreen bushy plants keep their foliage all year. The plants grow in sun or partial shade. They are drought-tolerant and don’t grow too tall.
Low-growing shrubs that are attractive all year are excellent choices for foundation plantings. These shrubs are ideal because they won’t block views from your window. Also, consider the amount of sun your front yard gets when choosing plants—some foundation plantings need full sun, whereas others grow better in the shade.
Drought-tolerant plants are also ideal for foundation planting. Letting the soil dry between watering helps to prevent dampness around your home. That is why it’s a good idea to plant short shrubs 3 ft. (1 m) apart. Plenty of air circulation around plants near your foundation also helps keep damp away from your property.
Avoid shrubs or small trees that have invasive roots because they can affect the property’s foundation. These larger shrubs should be planted at least 5 ft. (1.5 m) from your home.
Weigela/Ninebark Instead of Barberry
Weigela/Ninebark Instead of Barberry
Berberis thunbergii quickly grows to provide a dense hedge but can quickly take over a bed. Also, the sharp thorns are a nuisance to people and pets. A great substitution would be any cultivar of Weigela- Weigela florida, which have striking foliage and showy flowers that provide dense coverage. Another is Little Devil Ninebark- Physocarpus opulifolius 'Donna May'PPAF which is a compact form of ninebark and has deep burgundy foliage with white flowers in June.
Boxwood is landscape royalty. But, it also requires too much effort and patience to work with it. Faux boxwood offers an easy way to introduce boxwood indoors as well as outdoors without any fuss. Practical, functional, and incredibly appealing, faux boxwood is all you need to create a statement-making landscape for years to come.
From artificial boxwood hedges that will help you in edging focal points in your landscape to artificial boxwood screens that will block views and provide a refreshing backdrop in the setting, from faux boxwood mats and panels that can be used to mask unsightly views in any landscape to faux boxwood topiaries that will help shape your space, there are thousands of styles and sizes available that will make your landscape so much more striking and exciting.