Boxwoods on the Decline

Many people associate buxus sempervirens suffruticosa (aka the English boxwood) with Williamsburg. And in fact the colonists did bring boxwoods with them from England, so they’ve been here a long time. We’ve topiary-ed them, mazed them, grown them into huge, pillowing bushes, and framed our doorways with them. Williamsburgers love boxwoods!

Boxwood Decline

But these lovely slow-growing evergreens actually aren’t well suited to our area, and have been suffering from a host of problems, collectively know as Boxwood Decline since the 1970s. Even Colonial Williamsburg is considering ousting these shrubs for modern, more tolerant hybrids.

For one thing, our soil is dense and doesn’t offer enough sandy drainage for this shrub. Also, a nematode has taken up residence here and prefers to dine on boxwood. Yes, boxwoods will grow here, as many excellent gardeners and nearly four centuries will testify. But you have to give them just the right conditions and attention.

Colonial Williamsburg, FYI, is cycling its boxwoods out and replacing them with dwarf yaupon holly and Jim Stauffer boxwoods, which have been hybridized to be more tolerant of our local conditions. And that may include the oldest boxwoods in town, which is behind the Brush-Everard House (pictured above). These long-standing bushes were once an entire garden in themselves.

These particular boxwoods have suffered especially since Hurricane Isabelle, which felled the ironwood trees shading them. Boxwoods prefer dappled sunlight. CW officials say they’re considering a lattice-like shading structure that would allow the plants to slowly adjust to their new lighting conditions.

If you’re keeping your boxwoods, consider cutting out a small branch or two every growing season. (Call us and we’ll explain.) The idea is to allow light and air to move through the plant.

Boxwood Blight

On top of all these problems described above, there’s a new threat on the horizon. About a year ago, gardeners in 10 northern states began to see cases of Boxwood Blight caused by the fungus Cylindrocladium pseudonaviculatum. This fungus has been a problem in Europe since the 1990’s but is new to the States. Although this disease doesn’t typically kill boxwood, it does seriously affect its appearance by stripping the plant of most or even all of its leaves. Luckily, this fungus is not causing a problem in Virginia…yet. It did turn up in two nurseries in the state, but swift action by the Department of Agriculture has kept it in check. There’s no easy treatment now, so prevention is the best way to keep it out of your yard.

Hertzler & George Boxwood Care

Fortunately for our clients, Hertzler & George has a boxwood care program dedicated to this stately plant. We know how to successfully treat it for pests, the ecologically friendly way. Call us for details.757.229.9668

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Brian came out last week to try to assess a problem we are having in our yard.  He arrived on time, was extremely courteous and took a considerable amount of time analyzing our situation.  While he was unable to reach a solution, he did take the time to research and recommend another business that might be able to help us.  That kind of customer service will make us more likely to call on Hertzler & George if other issues arise.  Thanks, Brian!


Five Stars All Around

We hired H&G to help us re-do our landscaping after a different local landscaping company did a sub par job with plant selections and installations. That company also was very hard to deal with. H&G stepped right up with Jennifer creating a new planting scheme comprising of native plants with some we had never seen before and which we love! She is extremely knowledgeable and pleasant to work with – a true landscaping charm! Jon did the installations and also did a fantastic job. He was very meticulous on planting and finishing the job neatly with mulch. Unlike that other company’s installer, Jon left us extremely happy with the job done. Customer service on the phone – pleasant, patient and helpful. The only, and ever so minor aspect of their work, is they don’t offer a guarantee on the plants or install. I suppose that’s becoming industry standard. However, now looking over all the plantings with a bit of time passing, I am confident that there won’t need to be any replacements. Watering is of course the key element. Thank you H&G, the country cottage landscaping we’ve wanted is now ours – FIVE STARS!

Chris Dombrowski
Ford's Colony | Homeowner

True professionals

Had these guys build a surface-grade patio in May 2023. They looked at the project, sent me a proposed scope of work and contract via email, took a deposit of 1/2 the total via bank transfer. They set a date weeks later to start the job. They showed up on time, worked professionally and cleaned up at the end of the day. Whole job took 3 days, and they even replaced all the patio furniture on the last day. The final product was precisely what I asked for, done in a high-quality, workmanlike way.

H&G are not the cheapest guys out there, but for the extra money you get a professional product, professionally executed, on time, on budget. Honestly: I don’t think it gets any better than that.


Ken Blakely

Beyond Satisfied

We had an ugly uneven weedy patio and a driveway that needed reshaping and gravel. The transformation is stunning. Your representative Brian was patient and helpful in designing repairs to our satisfaction and your work crew was exceptional. Edwardo the work site foreman was extremely knowledgeable and professional and created a beautiful patio. His crew was superior.

Tim & Cynthia Porter

Joe Hertzler goes the extra mile

Hertzler and George were contracted to perform some landscaping for a seller of mine to get the home ready to show. They had just finished an extensive re-landscaping of the next door neighbors entire yard. I was very impressed by their attention to detail and their desire to satisfy their client. Joe Hertzler goes the extra mile to achieve complete client satisfaction. They provide a complete mix of landscaping design services and maintenance of existing landscaping

Tim Parker
Liz Moore Real Estate