Boxwood (Buxus spp.) is one of the most popular shrubs used in landscape design. Displaying densely growing, evergreen foliage, these garden staples are highly versatile.
Thriving in full and partial sun, boxwoods have no problem with heavy pruning. Shape them however you like or grow them as big or as small as you like.
If you’re thinking about incorporating some low-maintenance and visually anchoring plants into your landscape, this question may arise. What to plant in front of boxwoods? Well, some incredible plant combination ideas are just a quick read away.
What To Plant In Front Of Boxwoods
Boxwood can easily be trained to grow vertically or horizontally. Creating a hedge or privacy barrier against which flowering plants can shine throughout the season. In winter, your boxwoods will still maintain color and structure, while everything else lies dormant.
In terms of what to plant in front, there really are no rules. Simply focus on plant combinations that are not only beautiful and complementary but also contribute to the cohesive look of your landscape. Let’s take a look at some stunning grouping and placement options.
Perennials To Plant With Boxwoods
You’re not limited to using boxwoods as a backdrop, either. You can weave them into the tapestry of a color-themed border. Or, as a frame for your “blooming art” collection. Yet, as a backdrop for vibrant displays of color, nothing is better than boxwood.
A Rhapsody in Purple
What’s your favorite color? Here, the homeowner chose a palette of purple hues. Repeated groupings of soft lavender, salvia, and sage are dotted with the firm presence of boxwood. To create a stunning menagerie of color variation and texture to keep the eye traveling right across the entire planting scheme.
A Single-Color Sensation
Here, a single shade of magenta, exuded by these gorgeous peonies, can have an enticing effect. When framed by both an evergreen, privacy-hedge backdrop, and a border of globe boxwoods (which we’ll discuss further, in a moment). With very little else to visually distract the eye.
A Spectacular Spring Show
This demonstrates what to plant in front of boxwoods in the most spectacular way. Without overpowering these sumptuous tulips, boxwood provides a dark, textural canvas, allowing these vibrant colors to pop. The low hedge also protects these top-heavy bloomers from strong winds that might otherwise topple them.
Boxwood Companion Plants
Companion planting is defined as the practice of growing different plants together for their mutual benefit. We hear this in vegetable gardening all the time. Does this apply to boxwoods and other plants? Absolutely! In a way that is just as unique and nimble as the boxwood, itself.
Boxwood And Herbs
Herbs and boxwood are logical companions. They’re all known to have beneficial applications in medicine and dentistry. Both can be dried and steeped for tea or used in recipes and in certain parts of the world, specific boxwood varieties are even used in place of hops when brewing beer.
Boxwood Shade Garden
Boxwood can easily tolerate being planted in shadowed areas. Making it a wonderful pairing with shade plants like hostas, ferns, heuchera, bleeding hearts, columbine, lobelia, and hellebore. All of which have interesting and variegated textures and patterns that play well against boxwood in this peaceful environment.
A Zen Boxwood Garden
Here, the steadfast boxwood takes ‘calm’ to another level. Offers the kind of visual contrast that subdues the striking colors, shapes, and fragrances of Japanese maples, lilacs, and other low-growing plants that gently stimulate the senses. Presenting them in a softer way for more enchanting appeal.
Annuals to Plant with Boxwoods
Perennials can work absolute magic with boxwoods to create a sense of grandeur and mystique. Or just a place of peaceful reflection and relaxation. But, why let perennials have all the fun? Let’s take a look at three playful and colorful ways to pair annuals with boxwood.
Rhizomatous begonias, in pretty pastel hues, add a whimsical note to this composition when coupled with a rounded, boxwood topiary. Bright green begonia leaves, with textured veining, visually loosen the small, tightly woven blades of their larger companion. Together, singing a welcoming song on front porches and pathways.
A more formal look can be achieved by increasing the size of your boxwood topiaries and adding a low crown of flowering annuals in darker hues. The spear-shaped leaves of these New Guinea impatiens draw the eye from the top to the bottom of this lovely container combination.
Cozying Up With Color
Of course, color combinations aren’t limited to sunny spaces. Boxwood borders can create warm and welcoming pathways laced with crimson, light green, and gold shade plants like heuchera, coleus, and potato ivy. Choosing annuals that evolve in color as they mature will provide eye-catching, seasonal interest.
What To Plant With Boxwoods
The following three landscaping ideas creatively use boxwood to create specific types of environments. To instill a sense of order, of calm or formality. Each takes advantage of the boxwood’s immense versatility, in form and placement, to create contrasting form, texture, and color.
Boxwoods And Roses
Boxwood borders can become outdoor “room” dividers. Here, boxwoods are effectively used to showcase different varieties in a rose collection, while conveniently forming pathways to wander through.
Boxwoods maintain clean and well-defined spaces and keep top-heavy roses from touching the ground. Where they risk increased fungal and pest infestations.
The best boxwood types to use for this purpose are Common box, Wintergreen box, and Green Gem. All are known for their hardiness and naturally short stature.
Boxwood And Hydrangea
The beauty of this particular combination is the countless ways you can grow them.
Most hydrangeas will thrive in the ground. But they’ll do just as well in planters, as in the above image, or in pots.
Grow boxwoods bigger and your hydrangeas smaller, or the other way around. Put some in the ground and some in pots, in the same space. Or group them all in pots to frame your front porch or patio.
Boxwood And Grasses
This combination is the most casual and relaxing of these three. Loose and free-flowing grasses perfectly offset the static nature of globe boxwoods. While allowing those globes to create visual breaks in the grass. Making the overall look quite pleasing to the eye.
As more and more gardeners seek to include a little more downtime into their lives, this type of calm, symbiotic look is becoming quite the trend.
Planting Boxwoods In Front Of House
Planting boxwoods around dwellings has literally been going on since ancient Egyptian times. Who, throughout time, could argue with its evergreen foliage, dense branching, and amenability to heavy pruning?
There are certain factors to acknowledge, however. Some boxwood varieties fare better, and are more drought-tolerant, in full sun than others. Consider which direction your home faces and how much daily sun it gets when deciding on which boxwood to grow.
That being said, let’s take a look at a few stunning ways you can create structure and interest in your front landscape. While complimenting your front elevation for improved curb appeal and a potential jump in the value of your property.
Because not everyone’s home faces north, I’m also going to show you the best boxwood varieties to use and how close you can plant them to your home’s foundation.
With quick pruning, borders can be formed to camouflage your home’s foundation or to frame other flowering foundation plants. How far away from that foundation you should plant boxwoods will depend on how big you plan to let them grow. Some varieties can get quite large, in maturity.
Small, compact varieties only require two feet of space from the foundation. But larger boxwood types, with larger root systems, need three or more.
This Wintergreen variety of boxwood is a broadleaf evergreen that does very well as a garden-defining hedge in cold climates and remains a bright green throughout winter. Densely growing, two-tone leaves offer a stunning contrast when paired with broad-petaled flowers like poppies, peonies, and lilies. These are also more drought and pest tolerant than other boxwood cultivars.
The Baby Gem can also be grown as a lovely hedge but is the most often used variety in topiary gardens, due to their fast-growing habit. Tiny, close-knit leaves and stems reach outward to form a tight, compact structure, in a rich, dark green hue, that remains the same right through winter. These are fairly drought-tolerant against the afternoon sun when they have some morning shade.
This “true dwarf” boxwood cultivar is by far the most widely grown. Due to its slow-growing nature, little pruning is required.
With a low and compact nature, glossy, dark-green leaves grow flush with the others giving English boxwood hedges, topiaries, and globes a smooth appearance from a distance.
Native to rainy environments, there needs to be a bit more protection from harsh sun exposure.
Nothing makes a more dazzling architectural statement in landscape design than spheroid sculptures formed from beautiful, natural materials. Boxwood was absolutely born for this purpose. Some cultivars even grow in a globe formation organically, requiring very little pruning.
As we’ve seen, globe boxwoods sit comfortably in several different design styles. Whether planted in groups of varying heights and sizes, lining a pathway, or framing your home’s front facade. Curb appeal has no greater ally!
Buxus ‘Green Velvet’ is a compact, broad-mounded, evergreen with dark, velvety–green leaves, which darken with age and remain vibrant throughout winter.
The color is further accentuated when planted with burgundy-leaved, shrubs or other perennials. Adding a graceful touch to landscapes, as a space-defining hedge, foundation planting, or garden feature.
Dwarf Variegated Boxwood
Common boxwoods present a rich color that darkens with age. Offering subtle contributions to seasonal change in the garden. But variegated boxwood cultivars have a unique talent for such things.
In full sun, each tiny leaf displays brilliant shades of pale to dark green, highlighted by yellow and white.
In shade gardens, calming whites, sages, and bright greens, in the firm, structural form, provide glorious contrast to the flowing glow of Japanese maples, ferns, and hostas.
At just 5’ tall and wide, in maturity, and a slow growth rate of 1-2” per year, the variegated boxwood cultivar is the perfect choice for gardeners and landscapers with small spaces and a desire for low maintenance.
These specimens pair beautifully with other shrubs and flowering plants that develop ornamental fruit for further seasonal interest.