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Box Hedge Planting

Hi everyone! I want to plant a common box hedge (buxus sempervirens) along the boundary of our front garden and have just dug a hole to check the ground. There's a 10cm wide strip of concrete 10cms below the ground adjacent to the edging stone, dropping to 20 cms below the ground for another 10cms strip further in. There's a stone upright near the edge with 'WO' on it (3rd photo) - does that mean there's a water main below? I've read that the box has a shallow root system, so can I plant it in a 10cm deep trench? Do I need to add soil to make a ridge so it's deeper than that? Or do I need to plant the hedge 10cms in from the edge where it's a bit deeper? Any help greatly appreciated! Brian


  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 7,176
    A bit of searching around tells me it stands for "Wash out" for cleaning out pipes after work has been carried out. Whether that's true or not, l don't know but l would guess it's water related in some way.
    As regards the box, l would plant it 4 to 6 inches (sorry, old school).away from the edge, so nearer to the back of the trench. Pavements and concrete seem to act like a sump, draining moisture away.
    I expect you're aware, but box can be susceptible to blight or box tree caterpillar damage which can be pretty devastating. There are alternatives to box available :) .  
  • KeenOnGreenKeenOnGreen Posts: 1,126
    There are two things you should be aware of, if thinking of buying or planting Box.  There is a fungal disease called Box Blight, which is very prevalent in the UK, and very difficult to manage.  There is also an increasing problem with Box Tree Caterpillar, which is spreading throughout the UK, especially in the South, and which is very difficult to impossible to control.

    Have you considered planting an alternative? The nearest thing we have to Box in our garden is Euonymus Green Spire.  It has similar foliage, and a compact, dense habit.  Doesn't suffer from any problems. Others in the forum will be able to give you some suggestions.  
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 5,941
    think (don't know for sure) that is a water hydrant sign indicating there is an access point to a 4" water main 5 feet away from the post.

    If you have a look in a 5' radius of the post you may be able see where the access is (often a small cover with FH on it). It could be in your garden, on the pavement, or on the road. You should not disturb or obscure the post or cover.

    Personally - assuming there's no access point to conflict - I'd prepare a strip of ground at least 60cm wide and and about 30cm deep for your hedging. I'd then plant them at least 30cm away from the boundary.  They are thirsty and hungry plants and will not thrive if planted close to that concrete. Weak box plants are prone to various diseases.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • Great advice from all, thanks. What about the planting/positioning issue if I go for say Euonymus Green Spire - could that be nearer the border rather than 30cms away from it?
  • KeenOnGreenKeenOnGreen Posts: 1,126
    Green Spire can be kept very short, ours is only about 2ft high, and about 1ft wide, after many years of trimming it.  I would still advise not putting it right up against the concrete strip, and not on top of the concrete that is buried under the ground, as that won't give it enough root space.  

    You can always do something decorative with the strip that you leave between the plant and the concrete strip, by using bark much, pea gravel or something similar.
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 5,941
    I agree with KOG. There are very few shrubs that thrive on top of concrete..

    Once your chosen hedge has bushed out a bit to a diameter of 30 to 40cm you will only have a very thin strip of soil between the hedge and the concrete (maybe 10cm) which you probably won't even notice. Until then KOG's suggestion of a mulch of shingle or ornamental bark will help with appearances.

    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • Great points about it bushing out and about the decorative options. United Utilities confirmed that the concrete upright is a marker for a hydrant - the manhole for that is 2 metres away under the pavement. They probably didn't realise they were putting the concrete marker on private land and are finding out whether they can move it somewhere else 😊
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