Forum home Plants

Leggy hedges - how to prune?

jd_0963jd_0963 Posts: 1
Hi all, just looking for some advice. We recently moved into our new house and the privet hedges at the front are very leggy and thin with little privacy. What would be the best way to get them to be bushy again? How much should we take from the top/sides and how often? (Sorry, completely new so haven’t a clue how best to approach this and don’t want to massacre what’s already there) 

I have attached a photo for reference. I have also bought some bare rooted hedge plants that I am going to plant in between the existing ones in the hope it will thicken up. I just need to get the existing ones to behave! 

Thanks for any advice 


  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,764

    Hard pruning in this case would mean cutting your hedge down to about 18 inches high to encourage it to bush out. That may sound extreme but is the best course of action.

    I don't think trying to add more bare root plants will be successful though as it will be difficult to get them established by planting into the root zone of the existing hedge.
  • PlantmindedPlantminded Posts: 2,794
    I agree with @steephill, some drastic renovation pruning will encourage green bushy growth and now is a good time to do this.  I tried adding extra bare roots to the base of a privet hedge in a similar situation and they struggled to get established.  Add a good mulch of organic material after you've pruned to encourage healthy new growth and to retain moisture.  They recover very quickly.
    Wirral. Sandy, free draining soil.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,016
    The two things that make privet a bit sparse are periods of very cold weather, and very dry weather. They aren't properly evergreen. They do best with plenty of water, so they can suffer a bit if there's long dry spells.
    You can certainly cut them back hard to rejuvenate them without any problem @jd_0963 . If you can shape it [eventually ] so that the top is narrower than the base, that also helps, as it allows a bigger area of the hedge to get light. If it's dry around the base just now, you could give it a good watering and then mulch. Remove any leaf litter etc that's there - although it doesn't look as if that's a problem.  :)
    I'd agree that it would be difficult to get any other whips in there, unless they were pretty small, and going in front of the hedge. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
Sign In or Register to comment.