garden alternatives to box hedging

The Perfect Alternative to Box Hedging

You may be familiar with box hedging, but did you know that there are many alternatives to it that could make your garden look very different from if it had normal hedging? Hedges can be vulnerable to pests and infections such as box blight or box moth caterpillars. It depends on the kind of hedge and style you would like your garden to have. In this article, you will find the perfect alternative to box hedging options and how you can be more creative with your garden hedges.

What is box hedging?

Otherwise known as Buxus sempervirens, box hedging refers to native hedging that many gardeners recommend due to their dense and leafy appearance. Box hedging is tolerant towards most types of soil, although it can be stubborn towards wet or windy environments. Grown to the right height, box hedging is great for upkeeping privacy in your garden, and you can cut it into different shapes to suit your style if you desire. Box hedging can be recognised with its beautiful green colouring and small leaves.

What is box blight?

Box hedging can be vulnerable to certain diseases, and the most popular is box blight which affects the leaves and stems of most Buxus plants. This is caused by Cylindrocladium buxicola, which is a fungus that infects plant tissue, and kills cells through water supply interference. During the autumn, box blight is most likely to make an appearance since it loves damp and humid conditions for it to spread. If a plant becomes seriously infected (e.g., if the leaves turn a manky yellow), it needs to be destroyed.

Find out how to treat for box caterpillar here.

alternative to box hedging green

Alternatives to box hedging

It turns out that Buxus sempervirens tend to exist around southern parts of England. However, this does not mean that you cannot grow it around other regions of the UK. Most low hedges can grow up to 30 feet / 9 metres tall. Box is a casual hedging plant, and although it is evergreen and tolerant, it is simple to look after, too. Therefore, here are the many other alternatives to box hedging that you should consider growing in your garden:

Euonymus japonicus

Euonymus Japonicus alternative to box hedging

The first alternative to box hedging that came to mind is the Euonymus Japonicus. There are a few variants of the Euonymus Japonicus, but here we recommend the ‘Jean Hugues’ variant. Jean Hugues appears like normal Box hedging, with glossy dark leaves and an average growth of 1 metre. However, it is relatively simple to look after, handles trimming well, and is therefore worth considering adding as an alternative to box hedging.

Hebe ‘Veronica’: Sutherlandii & Red Edge

hebe red edge alternative to box hedging

Another great alternative to box hedging is Hebe. Hebe is commonly known as ‘Veronica,’ but there are two variants of Hebe to be aware of, that being ‘Sutherlandii’ and ‘Red Edge.’ Sutherlandii is more beautiful and has white flowers sprout in late summer, whilst the red edge has greyish-green leaves. Red Edge is at its best in the winter, when the red colours become the most prominent.

Ilex Crenata ‘Japanese Holly’

ilex holly hedging box alternative

Ilex Crenata is for those daring to be more experimental with their hedging. It is widely recognised for its holly features and is most prominent in the winter when berries will begin growing on them. It is hardier than other plants on the list, but it should be pruned to keep it at a low depth of 1 – 1 ½ metres tall. If you are interested in adding more diversity to your garden, then Ilex is great alternative to box hedging to consider.

Lavender

purple lavender alternative to box hedging

The colour and smell of lavender symbolises summer for many people. Because purple is such a popular colour (and if it is your favourite, too), then it is a worthy candidate to add as an alternative to box hedging. It has the luxury of bringing scented flowers and beautiful foliage to your hedging too, and with preferring well-drained soil when placed in sunny spots, it would make a great addition as a box hedging alternative.

Lonicera pileata ‘Box Leaved Honeysuckle’

Lonicera pileata alternative to box hedging

Often referred to as ‘Box leaved honeysuckle’ due to its shabby appearance and the little white flowers that it sprouts. The easy-to-care-for etiquette of Lonicera pileata is a worthy addition as an alternative to box hedging if you want to add more life and colour to your hedging.

Maigrun

maigrun alternative to box hedging

Maigrun shares many similarities to regular box hedging, but what makes Maigrun different is its more compact appearance. It is a vigorous grower, so regular trimming is required to keep it under control. Not a bad place to start if you are considering another alternative to box hedging.

Check out our brilliant garden screening ideas.

Osmanthus x Burkwoodi

osmanthus x burkwoodii alternative to box hedging

Another alternative to box hedging is Osmanthus x burkwoodii, which is a combination of both holly and box, with a side order of evergreen. You can mix it alongside your other garden borders and shrubbery to create better flowers that sprout from this alternate form of Osmanthus x burkwoodii.

NOTE: Not suitable for hedging in exposed areas.

Yew ‘Taxus Baccata’

yew red berries alternative to box hedging

Our final choice across this selection of alternatives to box hedging is the Yew ‘Taxus baccata,’ which is native to the UK and is recommended by numerous gardeners. Yew works well either as a topiary or a low hedge and can handle hard trimming. Yew is the best choice to make if you are looking for accurate lookalikes to box hedging, plus something a little extra.

Be Experimental with your Box Hedging

Across the board, there are numerous stylish choices you can add as an alternative to box hedging, whether it is the lush lavender, the enigmatic Euonymus or even the illustrious Ilex. Whichever choice you decide to add as an alternative to your box hedging, each one will add something different to your garden which you will not regret.

FAQs

What are alternatives to box hedging?

There are several alternatives to box hedging, including:
Yew (Taxus baccata): Yew is a popular alternative known for its dense foliage and ability to be shaped into hedges.
Privet (Ligustrum): Privet is a versatile option that grows quickly and can be easily pruned into formal hedges.
Lonicera nitida (Lonicera): This evergreen shrub is often used as a substitute for box due to its small, dense leaves and ease of maintenance.
Ilex crenata (Japanese Holly): Japanese Holly is a compact shrub that resembles boxwood and can be shaped into neat hedges.
Pittosporum tenuifolium (Kohuhu): Kohuhu is a hardy shrub with glossy green leaves, suitable for hedging in milder climates.

How do these alternatives compare to box hedging in terms of appearance?

The alternatives mentioned above offer a similar appearance to box hedging, with dense foliage and a formal, neat look. However, there may be slight variations in leaf shape, size, or colour, so it’s essential to consider the specific aesthetic you desire for your hedges.

Do these alternatives require similar care and maintenance as box hedging?

In general, the alternatives mentioned have comparable care requirements to box hedging. Regular pruning, watering, and fertilizing may be necessary to maintain their shape and health. However, it’s always recommended to research and follow specific care guidelines for each plant species.

Are these alternatives resistant to common pests and diseases?

Some of the alternatives, such as yew and Japanese holly, are known for their resistance to common boxwood pests and diseases, including boxwood blight. However, it’s important to monitor the health of any hedging plant and promptly address any signs of pests or diseases.

Sources

Sturley, S., (2022) Box Tree Caterpillar – How to Identify and Treat (2022) Available at: https://andermattgarden.co.uk/blogs/pests/box-tree-caterpillar-how-to-identify-and-treat-2022 [accessed 01/02/23]

2 thoughts on “The Perfect Alternative to Box Hedging”

  1. Thank you for sharing this informative article on alternatives to box hedging. As someone who loves gardening but has struggled with box blight in the past, I found this very helpful.

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