Home owners are often unaware of the best way to prune their shrubs to promote plant health and create an attractively shaped plant. Working with customers I am able to demonstrate proper pruning practices to help them achieve healthy and beautiful plants. However, some jobs are best left to professionals—especially for plants such as boxwood. Boxwood benefit from detailed pruning not only for shaping and height reduction, but also to encourage better airflow in the plant (reducing disease and insect pressure) and provide more surface area to absorb more light and increase photosynthesis (a perfectly round ball versus a dimpled golf ball). If boxwood are not properly pruned they not only look worse, the shrub may be also be injured and disease and insects may infest the plant. Boxwood can even die if it is pruned at the wrong time of year!
Improper pruning – The picture below shows these boxwood before pruning. They are healthy, but have grown dense. Pruning only the outside stifles growth of leaves inside the plant and reduces air flow which increases the possibility of disease and insect infestation.
Proper Pruning – The picture below shows the plants after pruning. Opening up the outer surface of boxwood allows for light and air penetration into the shrub. Though it may look harsh at first, new growth throughout the plant will result in a healthier, fuller-looking plant.