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Background

I am designing a screen of narrow shrubs for a space between a sunken stairwell and an existing paver walkway. The width of the area in question is 2.5' with a desired plant height of 5'.

As such, I've narrowed my search to one of Dee Runk or Green Tower Boxwoods; both of which I expect to grow 18"-24" wide.

Question

With this proximity to the sidewalk, am I risking disruption/buckling of the existing paver walkway with the roots of these plants? Any ideas what a safe minimum distance would be?

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Boxwoods will grow best if they are not being brushed past constantly while trying to grow. The safest minimum planting distance will be centered in the middle of the bed. This will leave a 3" buffer space at the base of the mature plant on both sides. Green Tower boxwoods do not have a huge root system, but to be on the safe side, you can take a square shovel every spring, and edge along the walk 4-6" deep, to sever the roots that grow out that far.

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The Green Tower Boxwood sounds like a good choice. Make sure that there isn't a layer of concrete below the soil. Lots of contractors dump concrete out close to projects and beside a stairwell I'd be suspicious (if I am reading you correctly.) You need to double dig that soil anyway...if there is concrete and it is blocking the drainage I'd try punching through so water will drain freely. The tall, narrow spire-like form of these shrubs echo a handrail, are very 'architectural' in form and make a nice transition from the architecture of the building to the garden.

Boxwood won't bother your concrete if you keep it watered consistently. Paver's are perfect because they can easily be pulled up, cut out wayward roots and replaced. Keep their size restrained with light shearing (keep top smaller than the base to keep foliage healthy and vigorous to the ground) and you'll keep their roots in proportion.

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