Forum home Problem solving

Well-established privets losing green leaves and dying.

Hi!  I live in New Jersey, and I moved into my home 45 years ago and there were 3 well-established privet clumps.  They are spaced about 3 ft. apart, and a few feet from a 3 ft. retaining wall rising up to the neighbor's property.  They were basically wild-growing but healthy and have always towered about 15 to 18 ft. or more.  They are well drained as they are higher than the ground on the downhill side.
.... For the past few years they appear healthy in spring and flower nicely, but soon start dropping healthy green leaves and they remained somewhat sparely leafed throughout the summer.  But this year, the same, but now it appears they are dropping almost all the leaves.  I should add that the leaves being dropped now are not as bright green as the earlier leaves.
.... It may not be relevant but this spring has been especially wet.  Also, over the past few years a few new but very fast-growing Leyland Cypress trees may be starving the privets of afternoon sunlight.  Could this be the problem? Also, I suspect a neighbor on higher ground may be over-using vegetation killer, yet other shrubs, including the nearby Leylands are incredibly healthy. But in another nearby area, once healthy English Ivy is suffering.
.... Any insight or experience would be appreciated. Thank You
JohnnyC

Posts

  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 35,508
    Hello jecelect and welcome to the forum. Would it be possible for you to post some pictures of your privets so we can see the problem? Just for your information this is a UK site where the majority of forum members live.
    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,135
    Privet certainly doesn't need lots of sun, and does like a lot of water, but there are also diseases which can affect it. Some forum members here have had large sections of established hedge affected by honey fungus.
    As Ladybird says, some pics will help with IDing the issue. Hopefully it's not a weedkiller problem. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • jecelectjecelect Posts: 3

    Thank you for the concern. Might I add that there are three more privet clumps on that property line, all forward of the ones in trouble.  One is near the troubled ones; the other two are spread out with 15 feet between. Those others all seem healthy, but until recently were covered in dense shade, and were tinier and barely noticeable. About 3 years ago the neighbor had four 30 ft. plus maples removed and with the newfound sunlight the others seemed to come to life. The three troubled privets had some 3, possible 4 inch trunks in the '70s, some of which were cut off and newer shoots have grown into virtual trees.  I would guess these were originally planted in the late '40's when these homes were built. I suppose it is because they have been here so long I feel compelled to keep them healthy.  Thank you again, and a few pictures with captions to help diagose problems.  BTW, all pics taken today, June 24, 2019.

    .

    . The above pic shows the bases of the three troubled Privets.
    .

    The above pic shows the three trouble Privets at a distance the the Leyland Cypress' to the right. For what it is worth, in this pic the camera is pointed North or NNE.
    .

    The above pic shows the sparse leafing. Every few years we have cut back anything hanging over the deck to reduce debris not to mention bird poo.  With a nearby bird feeder there is plenty of bird activity in the surrounding trees.
    .

    The above pic shows the three distressed Privets beyond the fence and one of the healthier Privets near. This particular Privet never seemed as tall or as robust as the other three, much like the other two located further up the property line. 
    .

    The pic above shows a flower of the Privet in the previous pic, all these pics taken today. I think these flowered earlier in the season?? and again, now in late June.


    JohnnyC
  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 35,508
    These are just observations. To me, the privets, which are attempting to get to tree status, haven't got enough room in which to do this. The border seems too narrow. In the UK privets are generally kept to about two metres high as hedges and clipped at least twice a year. This helps them to keep their leaves all the way down to base. I found this on the internet which may perhaps help.
    You could also have a word with your neighbour and ask about any herbicides that may have been used.

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • jecelectjecelect Posts: 3

    Thank you Ladybird4..... An interesting thought about topping off those tall Privets, and makes perfect sense.  Equally interesting is what "Alys Fowler" mentioned concerning night-light pollution.  I had never considered that being a problem.
    ..... In the following picture taken just minutes ago, the light you see has been there for the longest time. HOWEVER, it had always been an all-night tiny (18 watt?) fluorescent light with a homemade deflector so as not to illuminate the neighbor's bedroom window.  AND, about 3 or 4 years ago, just about when problems began to appear, I replaced it with a brighter LED light.  And since the new neighbors no longer use the nearby room as a bedroom, I didn't consider a downward deflector.  Further, the LED light has much different characteristics than fluorescent, possibly more detrimental to the Privets.
    .... I will be fabricating an aluminum deflector tomorrow to shield the Privets from that light.  The all-night light is required as our little Yorkie was attacked some time ago by a large raccoon when let out late at night and he made a bee-line for that dark corner and likely ran right into the raccoon in the dark.
    .... Regarding the herbicides, the new neighbor, a nice young fellow, had told me when he first moved in a few years ago, how he used a lot of vegetation killer on his front lawn to kill everything since it was all a mess. I suggested that it was a terrible idea, since after using that stuff, grass is the last thing to grow, meanwhile every weed known to mankind survives in the tainted soil.  He said he would no longer use it, but who knows.  And yes, there is no longer any lawn at all, just nasty weeds that he mows down short. But a bed of English Ivy of ours which lies just below his front lawn, has slowly been dying off in areas, I am sure the result of that herbicide treatment.  
    .


    JohnnyC
  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 35,508
    I think you are correct in the thoughts it may be possibly connected with the herbicide used by the neighbour - especially as the ivy is dying off. I can see what you mean about the LED light and understand the reasons for its use. I guess a tiny Yorkie is no match for a big raccoon. Good luck with the deflector and maybe drop the height of the privets a bit if you think its worth a try.
    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
Sign In or Register to comment.