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Privet hedge pruning

we have recently moved house. There’s a 5 foot privet hedge that borders the edge of our property next to the pavement. It overhangs the pavement by a good foot or more. What is the best approach to reducing its width back. How much could I reduce at a time and can I start now in early February. We live in Yorkshire. Many thanks 
Saltaire, West Yorkshire


  • PlantmindedPlantminded Posts: 1,973
    Hello @Pam285, now is the best time to prune a privet hedge before new shoots start to emerge and before the nesting season begins (check first though). I had over 200 feet of privet hedge in my last property and got to know it well!  I'd suggest that you take it back by half of what you think it needs now and then take it back to where you really want it in autumn. This will lessen the stress on the hedge, although privet is really tough if you feel you need to reduce it further now.  Use a good electric hedgetrimmer, preferably cordless to avoid any cord chopping!
    Wirral. Sandy, free draining soil.
  • PerkiPerki Posts: 2,328
    Take it all back in one go ideally slightly further back than you want and then let come back out to get a good face on the hedge . 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,309
    I'd do as @Perki describes.
    The only factor to bear in mind is weather. Avoid doing it when there's severe frosts forecast. Even then, once it's milder it would recover -it wouldn't pop it's clogs. 
    A good tidy at the base and a mulch will help it too, as with any hedge. 
    If you can cut it with a slope, so that the top is narrower than the base, that also helps as you get better light into the whole face of the hedge, and therefore better growth and coverage on it.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 8,184
    I agree, take it back about 6 or 8 inches from where you want it, on a slope (batter). It'll expose the brown branches but they'll make fresh shoots as soon as the weather starts to warm up, then when the new shoots are maybe 4 inches or so, clip back by half to promote bushiness (but check that there aren't any active birds' nests in there first). If we have a dry spring it'll be worth giving it a good watering once a week, and a sprinkle of a general fertiliser when it starts to grow wouldn't hurt.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • PlantmindedPlantminded Posts: 1,973
    edited January 2022
    If you cut the hedge back really hard now, it will not only look unsightly but it will come back with a vengeance - you will invigorate it!  Why not try a cut of six inches first, review it and then reconsider.  Better than going full on and then regretting it!

    Sloping the side into an "A" shape is good for getting light into the hedge and ensuring healthy growth.  My hedge remained evergreen all year and didn't loose any leaves, apart from the normal shedding, so it depends on where you are as to how it will look over winter.
    Wirral. Sandy, free draining soil.
  • Pam285Pam285 Posts: 98
    Thank you all for such helpful comments. Just need to buy a cord less hedge trimmer and wait for a fine frost free day. 
    Saltaire, West Yorkshire
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