Exterior & Garden The Victorian House

A ‘New Horizon’ for the Front of the House

I spent a full day yesterday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. pruning boxwoods. That’s insane. I’m assuming it’s faster if you are a more experienced gardener, but I was trying to do a very thorough job of removing dead wood from the interior of the hedges. (My arms bear many scratches today.) The boxwoods were butchered a bit last spring in an attempt to reduce their size, but they’ve filled in enough to move on to phase two, which is hopefully making them more dense.

Last year:

Cutting Back Overgrown Boxwoods

This year:

Hard-Pruned Boxwoods, Year Two

They’re not great, but they’re improving. I’m going to fertilize them and add mulch, and then be patient.

There was another big change from last year to this year — one that was beyond our control.

Mature Ash Tree

I miss that tree so much. It was on the parkway and the village removed it because of emerald ash borer infestation (though the tree still looked perfectly healthy). It came down in only 20 minutes, and instantly our house was bare. They did plant a new tree yesterday though!

Wee Baby 'New Horizon' Elm Tree

Can you even see it? It’s a wee baby elm tree, so they traded one doomed variety for another, but it’s a new hybrid (“new horizon”) that is supposed to be resistant to Dutch elm disease. Here’s a head-on shot.

Making it Lovely's Queen Anne Victorian House

Grow little tree, grow! (You too, boxwoods. Fill in.)

Sources & Paint ColorsNeed design help? Let's work together.

You Might Also Like...

  • Carolyn
    May 26, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Oh, I feel your pain. I turned down my lovely tree lined street a few years ago to find all the trees gone. I thought I turned down the wrong street. It was so sad. Same problem. Emerald Ash Borer.

    Oh well. In about 20 years, the new trees will look great!

    • Making it Lovely
      May 26, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      So sad. They were all ash trees along the block?

  • Laura @ Rather Square
    May 26, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    At least the village is replanting trees finally. Some of my neighbors had their trees cut down a while ago (like years) and have been waiting for replacements. We’ve got a big old oak tree on our parkway that seems nice and healthy luckily, but it would be so weird if it was gone one day. I hope your new elm tree grows fast!

    • Making it Lovely
      May 26, 2016 at 3:18 pm

      Yikes. And then they take so long to start looking like much of anything. May your tree remain happy and healthy for a long, long time!

  • Vanessa D.
    May 26, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    I am amazed by how much better your boxwood hedge looks! Pruning them is not my idea of fun – they’re kind of smelly.

    My parents had to take down a massive maple last year, the new trees are already planted but until they get quite a bit bigger it’s causing a lot of angst for my mom.

    • Making it Lovely
      May 26, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      Someone commented last year that I should just rip them out — they look dead. Boom! They’re back in the land of the living! ;)

      • Vanessa D.
        May 28, 2016 at 1:15 am

        I hope it wasn’t me – because I remember how bad they looked last year. It’s hard to get them to come back like you have!

      • mjhooper2013
        May 31, 2016 at 2:52 pm

        Pull firmly on the shrub and if it doesn’t come out of the ground easily, it’s probably alive and you will know by the following year. I covet your wonderful house and just wait, you WILL get used to having no leaves to rake and not seeing a big tree out front. Do you know who the builder/architect was? The grey house next door looks positively boring compared to your gem. You really do have the glam!!!! Enjoy!!!

  • AshleyM
    May 26, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Ugh, we lost our ash tree, too! Same reason and I almost cried. Hopefully your new one grows quickly! Nice job on the boxwoods!

  • Katy
    May 26, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    Oh no! Down here in Austin we have similar issues with our Live Oaks. Our community was built around twisty, old growth trees and the community ended up insuring them because our property values would decrease significantly if we lost them! I was shocked to find out how much older growth trees are worth!

    So sorry for your loss!

  • Kathleen Tax Wille
    May 26, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Oh my gosh, that little tree is so cute.

  • Monica
    May 26, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    cool! my FIL has a patent on that tree. It’s good to see an example of it being bought by a municipality for use along a street; I’m going to try to get it on the list of approved street trees up here in Madison.

    • Making it Lovely
      May 27, 2016 at 4:11 pm

      Nice! I think the village planted 10 of them here this year. I don’t know if they’re all the same variety, but I know the local paper listed 10 elm trees.

  • Barb
    May 26, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    If you can, make sure it gets lots of water. Newly planted trees need much water. Probably more than Oak Park will provide. Are they coming back with water bags? We had tree issues here in Elmwood Park. So far we have been thru three trees to replace two that died. Only one has survived so far. We are getting another one in the fall. Hopefully that one will “take.”

    • Making it Lovely
      May 27, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      Yes, I think they’re supposed to bring water bags. It has been raining every day since they planted the trees, but we plan to keep up with it too.

  • Patti
    May 26, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    Did you do a post on your house’s exterior paint? I may have missed it.

  • Michelle Mattus (@Bleubook)
    May 27, 2016 at 8:46 am

    Mulch the tree, not high up on the trunk, that mounding mulch you sometimes see is horrible. And water it a lot. My block had trees planted all along it at the same time. I had inpatients planted around it and watered them daily over the summers…in a couple of years our tree was significantly larger than its neighbors. so WATER WATER WATER.

  • Sarah
    May 27, 2016 at 10:27 am

    From the pattern of dead wood, it looks like your boxwoods have become frost/cold damaged. They will come back to life but not in any significant or meaningful way. I’m with that previous poster–rip ’em out and start over.

    • Maria
      May 30, 2016 at 9:43 am

      Give them a year or two, and they will look great! To get boxwood that size takes at least 10, maybe 15 years.

  • chris
    May 27, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Never fun to lose a mature tree! BUT you can see the front of your beautiful house now. Did it change the light in your front rooms?

  • jannike
    May 27, 2016 at 11:43 am

    We also lost the tree in front of our house, along with 300 other trees in the neighbourhood, last summer. They planted a baby beech last fall which survived the winter, but is no longer straight. No more shade on the front porch in the summer. The city (Montreal) asks homeowners to adopt the tree in front of their house and give it 15-20 litres of water in one shot, at least once a week, more during hot and dry weather. The good thing is that the city has been using the uninfested wood to make benches and planters along the commercial streets.

  • judy
    May 27, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    I believe it is important to dig out the old soil and use dirt that does not have any undisclosed varmints in it-at least that is what the tree guy told us and it definitely raised the cost.

  • Carol
    May 27, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    It is so sad when a tree is chopped down, and I remember the devastation caused by Dutch Elm disease in the 70’s in Britain, so sad to wave goodbye to such hansome trees. However, one diseased tree fell on my friend Emma’s house before they had chance to chop it down, which was, of course extremely harrowing for their family as they had to move out so half their house could be rebuilt! They were lucky no one was hurt as they were out at the time. So much better to be safe and all that. Xxx

  • Judy
    May 27, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    The hedge on the right seems fuller and taller than the one on the left?

    • Making it Lovely
      June 2, 2016 at 10:41 am

      It is. They were uneven when we moved in, and I’m slowly trying to correct them, but it will take several seasons (if it works!).

  • Jill Irvin
    May 28, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Everybody has their own design process. I spent years trying to re-train a Lilac I loved before finally realized it just wasn’t going to work. Boxwoods are a classic front entry plant and I would stick with them, that said, I would definitely replant with new starts. The texture of the boxwoods look great against the house but their size is competing with the front porch/yard. A smaller boxwood is going to work better.

  • The Garden: A Timeline of Neglect – Making it Lovely
    May 30, 2016 at 11:56 am

    […] already know that I spent a full day trimming those boxwood hedges out front. I went out and worked on them for another three hours over the weekend, putting the […]

  • Sally
    June 3, 2016 at 3:21 am

    You have an amazing house!! I love it :)

  • Christina A.
    June 14, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    I was the winner of the credit to the Rejuvenation website so I just wanted to stop by a post and say…thank you! I am going to pick out some lighting for my husband’s office as we have been thinking about doing that anyhow! I just love your home! We *ALMOST* bought a blue Victorian home down here in Texas a couple of years ago but missed out on it and bought a different newer, but still older, home that we are happy with–I do still admit that I daydream about the Victorian though! Your tree will grow faster than you think I’m sure! We have American Boxwoods around our home as well that have to stay pruned but we had English Boxwoods at our old home in Virginia and they were so much harder to deal with though were quite beautiful!

    Thank you again and good luck with your home endeavors! I love it!