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I’ll be honest with you guys: I was kind of certain I was going to fail HARD with this little “trick” I’m about to show you.
I waited until I started seeing new growth, so I think I’m in the clear and can finally share.
I first hinted at my trick last month when I mentioned that I planted a bunch of new boxwood shrubs along my backyard fence line. Fourteen of them, to be exact. But the truth is, I only spent real dollars on seven of them, because I was able to successfully split each shrub in half! The trick? All I had to do was look for plants that had two existing stems in the same pot.
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My reason for the new hedge line was twofold. With the way my lot works out in my neighborhood, I have four different neighbors’ back yards facing my own, which has led to a hodgepodge of fencing surrounding me on three sides (some of which have the “ugly” side facing me, and some with the cosmetic side). If you look back at the yard fill-in project I did last summer, you can see and compare each. I could put up my own new fence line (and sort of have been, slowly), but finishing the rest is both time-consuming and costly, and not really convenient to do in the near future with all of the other exterior and interior projects I have going on this year. I also have my own chain link fence on two sides of the yard, which while ugly, is still very functional for Charlie The Escape Artist and other pups who come to visit. So, by planting a bunch of shrubs along the longest part of the yard, I can actively be growing a newer, more beautiful division that masks my neighbors’ fences and my own while I get to work on more urgent projects. It’s not immediate, of course, but then again hardly anything with this house ever is.
When I went looking for hedge shrubs, I wanted to find the cheapest and the hardiest ones I could find. Given that spring sales are abundant right now, I was able to find pots of boxwoods at a big box store for $5 each. The common boxwood isn’t really my favorite plant in general because they are pretty boring to look at. However, when healthy, they have a decent growth rate, make for excellent hedges, and can seamlessly grow into each other with very little care (aka neglect, which is what I need to be doing right now). I noticed while shopping that many of them had two stems growing out of each pot rather than one, and it got me thinking: could I possibly just split them into two separate plants?
Well, since you probably know from experience that I like to take a gamble with DIY projects, I decided to go for it so I could tell you if it’s worth doing. It is!
Tools and Materials Used:
- boxwood plants
- heavy duty utility knife (this one’s my favorite and worth every penny IMO)
- small garden shovel (buy a set like this for better prices per unit)
- slow-release fertilizer
- landscaping fabric
- flexible, no-dig landscape edging
- root growth hormone
- drip hose
The process is really pretty simple, but I wanted to give this new hedge the best no-fuss start I could. I started with some landscaping fabric and ran a line of flexible landscape edging to contain the mulch. Then after spacing and digging holes, I split each boxwood plant along the middle to separate its two stems using a small garden shovel and utility knife (I didn’t want to rip/mangle them too much, so cutting seemed better than tearing with my hands).
Then, I used my new favorite secret weapon: root growth hormone. I’ll be sharing some other wins thanks to this handy stuff soon, but for the hedges, I just sprinkled them on the shredded ends of the plants once split, then plopped them into the ground. The soil in this back area has excellent drainage since it was part of the fill-in project, so I needn’t worry about soil quality. I covered over the entire hedge line with mulch and added some fertilizer along with a soaker hose (to keep the plants watered until they were established, but not double my workload in the process, this hose has a bunch of holes in it to periodically water along the length of it). The hose comes loopy and kinks up easily, so I weighted them down with extra edging and bricks I found from removing the trees in years past since the mulch wasn’t heavy enough to do that on its own. Eventually, I’ll probably replace them with some landscaping staples to keep the hose low-profile.
So, that’s pretty much how I got twice the hedge for half the price. Thanks to the drip line and recent rain, the boxwoods are already sprouting new growth and seem to be doing very well! They’re even tolerating Charlie’s frequent strolls around the perimeter (she seems to have a liking for how mulch feels underfoot, I suppose). It will take several years before they grow tall enough to hide anything, but in the meantime, I’ll be able to remove the chain link fence, build the new shed, and concentrate on the next 1,257 things on the to-do list.
Oh, and all of that green grass you see on the left of that photo? That’s been a success too… more soon!