low-cut sheared shrubs hide bloomless legs of rose plants
Photo: Mark Lohman
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5. Conceal the Shortcomings of Leggy Plants

This low hedge of boxwood makes a skirt that hides the unsightly bare bases of rosebushes. Because it provides a strong framework for the loose and romantic-looking beds, they can be filled with many kinds of roses and perennials—and maybe even a few weeds.

TOH Tip: Shape hedges so that the bottom is slightly wider than the top. Narrowing as you go from bottom to top keeps hedges fuller by allowing more sunlight to reach leaves. This prevents unattractive holes in the surface of the hedge and, worse, bare branches around the base. Though the difference may be barely perceptible, for a 10-foot-tall hedge the sides should slope as much as 4 to 6 inches from base to top. Some people set four posts and run level string lines along the top and bottom as guides to get a consistent shape.
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