6 best alternatives to box hedging

yew hedge

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Box hedging (Buxus sempervirens) is a popular choice for formal hedging in the UK. However, box hedging can be susceptible to a number of diseases and pests, such as box blight and box tree caterpillar. As a result, many gardeners are now looking for alternative hedging plants that are more resistant to disease and pests

In this post we introduce 6 of the best alternative hedge plants.

Box Blight

Box blight is a fungal disease that affects box hedging (Buxus sempervirens). The disease is characterised by black or brown patches on the leaves and stems of the plant. Box blight can be devastating to a box hedge, often causing the plant to die. 

Struggling with box blight? Check out this article on caring for a diseased hedge.

If you choose to go with a box hedge, it is important to choose a healthy plant from a reputable nursery. You should also avoid planting your box hedge in an area that is prone to damp or waterlogging to reduce the risk of box blight. 

If you live in an area that has poor drainage, it’s best to go with an alternative hedge.

Box Tree caterpillar 

Box tree caterpillar (Cydalima perspectalis) is a moth that is native to Asia, but are commonly found in the UK. The caterpillars of this moth feed on the leaves of box hedging (Buxus sempervirens), causing the leaves to turn brown and eventually drop off. A severe infestation can kill a box hedge. 

Planting your hedge in an area that is not too sunny or too shady will make it less attractive to the caterpillars. You should also avoid using fertilisers or pesticides on your hedge as this can make it more attractive to box tree caterpillars.

To avoid these problems, in this post we will introduce the 6 best alternatives to box hedges which are more resistant to pests yet still provide good coverage as topiary hedges, low hedge and even tall hedges. 

6 alternatives to box hedging

yew hedge

Yew

Yew (Taxus baccata) is a good option for a garden hedge because it is dense, fast-growing and gives a similar coverage to box hedge, making it one of the most popular choices for the UK.

It can tolerate cold weather, making it a good choice for areas with harsh winters. Yew is also relatively easy to care for, requiring only occasional pruning to keep it looking its best. 

Yew grows around 20-40cm each year making it a good choice for a tall hedge that provides dense coverage and good privacy – similar to a box hedge.

 It can also be trimmed into shapes, making it a good option for topiary hedges. 

mock privet

Mock Privet

Mock privet (Ligustrum delavayanum) is a good alternative to box hedging because it is more resistant to pests and diseases. Mock privet is an evergreen that belongs to the olive family. Native to the mediterranean, it is sensitive to cold weather, better suited for warmer areas.  

Suitable for both low hedges and tall hedges, Mock privet can grow up to 10 feet. 

Mock privet does require more maintenance than box hedging, as it needs to be trimmed regularly to keep it looking its best. However, mock privet is a relatively easy plant to care for overall.

japanese holly hedge

Japanese Holly

Japanese holly (Ilex crenata) is a dense and rigid evergreen shrub that can grow up to 10 feet tall. It has small, dark green leaves and produces small, white flowers in the spring. 

A popular choice for hedges in Asia, Japanese holly is now commonly grown in the UK too. It is a good alternative to box hedging as it is more resistant to pests and diseases. Japanese holly can also tolerate cold weather, poor soil and drought making it a good choice for most areas in the UK.

A dense evergreen shrub, Japanese holly makes a good low hedge or tall hedge. It can take a lot of trimming, making it suitable for topiary hedges too. 

euonymus Japonicus

Euonymus Japonicus

Euonymus japonicus is a dense, evergreen shrub that can grow up to 3.5 feet. Its evergreen foliage remains a deep green throughout winter, making it a very popular alternative choice to box hedging.

Unlike Box hedging, Euonymus Japonicus is resistant to box blight. Euonymus japonicus can also tolerate cold weather and is generally a hardy plant; it will grow in most soils, making it a good choice for areas with harsh winters.

A dense evergreen shrub, Euonymus japonicus makes a good low hedge, it can be trimmed into shapes, making it suitable for topiary hedges too.

bay laurel hedge

Bay Laurel

Laurus nobilis is an evergreen shrub with glossy, dark green leaves. It can grow up to 6 feet tall and about 10 cm growth can be expected yearly.

Bay is a good choice for hedges because it has a dense growth habit and can be pruned into a variety of shapes. Comparable to Box hedges, which are also evergreen and have glossy leaves, bay is smaller in size and grows a little more slowly.

Bay is a good alternative to box for hedges in the UK because it can tolerate a variety of climates. It can grow in full sun or partial shade, and does not require a lot of water. 

heather for hedges

Heather

Heather is an evergreen shrub that is native to the UK. It has small, white or pink flowers and can grow up to 3 feet tall.

Heather is a good alternative to box for hedges because it is low maintenance and does not require a lot of water. It can also tolerate a variety of climates and soil types. Heather is more suitable for short hedges and areas with shallow soil such as slopes and rock gardens.

Heather is not really suitable for topiary because of its compact growth habit, it does not respond well to pruning, heather is more ornamental if you are looking for a colourful addition to your garden.

What to consider when choosing a hedge.

When choosing a hedge, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, consider what purpose the hedge will serve. If you’re looking for a hedge that will provide privacy, you’ll want to choose a plant that is dense and fast-growing. If you’re looking for a decorative hedge, you’ll want to choose a plant that is suitable for topiary or has showy flowers. 

You should also consider the climate in your area. Some plants are more tolerant of cold weather than others, so if you live in an area with harsh winters, you’ll want to choose a plant that can withstand the cold. 

Finally, you’ll need to consider the amount of maintenance you’re willing to do. Some plants require more pruning and trimming than others, so if you’re not up for spending a lot of time caring for your hedge, you’ll want to choose a plant that is easy to care for.

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