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Cutting back privet

103daz103daz Posts: 3
We are due to complete on our house on Friday & we have a back & front Jungle (sorry meant gardens) The house has been empty for almost 2 years & we plan on concentrating on the inside First, & just a basic tidy, pull out weeds to make a clearing to the doors etc. However.
On our final visit before completion we met the neighbour (Who seems really nice) but she asked if the first thing we could do was cut back the hedge as it looks horrendous & it is actually completely covering the kitchen window anyway. Trouble is, I'm no proper gardener (& correct me if I'm wrong) but I'm sure that this time of year is wrong for doing this & don't want to end up with a dead hedge instead.
So can I cut it back? How far? & if I do is there a chance I will kill it? Or should I leave it until later in the year & just risk cutting back enough to let light in through the kitchen window?

Thankyou in advance for any help/advice


  • WilderbeastWilderbeast Posts: 1,415
    I'd be quite cautious about cutting any hedge back at this time of year, privet isn't the most hardy of hedges. I'd only cut back where you really need to do so at this time of year and especially while it's very cold. 
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,867
    Good luck with your new home ... good neighbours are worth their weight in gold ... tell your neighbour you're taking advice and reassure her that you will cut the hedge back  just as soon as the cold weather is over and promise to and maintain it properly after that ... hopefully that will be the foundation of a long time of good neighbourly relations.   :)

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 10,426
    I agree, if you can leave it even just a month or so it would be better for the hedge. But make sure you do it before the birds start nesting, or you'd have to leave it until after they'd finished. I'd recommend explaining your plan to the neighbour though, to avoid a falling-out.
    Maybe just trim off the minimum you need to get to your window for now. Once the privet starts showing signs of growth you can cut back hard (renovation pruning, ) but it's better if you can do one side this year and the other side next year, if possible. Having said that, when we moved in here our privet was a monster (some of it was more like a row of trees) and in our ignorance we chopped back the lot to about 4 feet high and did the sides too, and it was fine (and still is, 30-odd years later).
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • 103daz103daz Posts: 3
    JennyJ said:
    I it's better if you can do one side this year and the other side next year, if possible. 
    Thankyou for the advice & the link & I'll take a look at it later.
    So how about cutting one side & the top of it down to a sensible height? Thought I'd check its fine to do it that way.
    Like I say I'm no gardener & I know a weed from a plant, but that's about it.

    But thankyou to all 3 of you for taking time to reply, its much appreciated.

    And no doubt I'll be posting further questions later down the line because there certainly is a Lot to be done with the gardens. For instance there is a large pond in the garden & a large shed at the bottom of the garden, but neither could be seen as everything is just so overgrown.

    Thankyou once again for your help/advice :) 

  • 103daz103daz Posts: 3
    Me again.

    Just read the link so have my answer to the side/height question.
    We also have overgrown conifers at the back garden that require some cutting back so a Great link there to help us.
    Thankyou once again :) 
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 10,426
    edited January 2021
    There's lots of good advice on the RHS website, but come back on here and ask if you have any more questions, or just want to show off your progress  :) . We love to see a transformation project.
    PS Unlike privet most conifers don't grow back from the brown wood so go steady with those.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
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