Forum home Problem solving

Privets that wont grow

I planted some bare root privets, nearly 3 years ago, they were approx 24" tall when we got them, with thintention of them developing into a barrier between our next door neighbours garden.

They have grown very little since being planted, with the exception of 1 plant that has gone wild! the rest have branched out a little, but do not have the bushy appearance i would expect.

I have been advised to trim them back, but unsure as to how far i should go.




  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,312

    I'd give it a good hard cut back in spring and if that doesn't work replace them.

    But think about the soil before you replace. Does everything else grow well there? Has something been dumped or is it very impoverished?

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    Sounds very much as if there is something in the ground that is holding them back - often turns out to be an old wall or something of that kind - especially as one has run away with itself.  I'd be inclined to dig them up, look carefully at the roots to ensure there are no beasties there, pot 'em up for a bit with really good compost and see if they go away then.  Meantime excavate the area you had them planted in and see what is underneath - coud be anything, I discovered a spring bedstead once in a garden I was trying to renew!!!  If all well, then enrich the soil, add good drainage, and hope they will go well then. 

  • image

     There has never been a wall there, in fact the one that grows the best is next to a fence we had erected, where they are planted is in the border between 2 lawns.

  • SwissSueSwissSue Posts: 1,447

    Here is your picture right side up, can't help you with the hedge though!



  • XX Posts: 707

    You might want to clear the grass from around the stems of the privet maybe create a narrow border so that the plants have a fighting chance.  The grass will be a big drain in terms of nutrients and water.

  • Trickyh78 - it can be enlightening to escavate the soil; hard work, but enlightening. I have found sections of wall where there has been no wall that I knew of. In the garden of a 'new build' house I even found a pneumatic drill bit. I've got sections of terraced garden in the place where I live now, and the back-fill of the terracing has sections of rubble with voids. The terracing has been in place for maybe 3 decades. You always find surprises in gardening image

    I'd cut those privet back hard (look for dormant buds near the base of the woody structure) and give them a good feed of something. Pelleted chicken manure, anything. They may come through, they may not. In my books on hedges - make sure the ground is thoroughly prepared. That could mean quite a bit of digging and other preparation for what is 'only a hedge' in some peoples' minds (although I do not assume you are one of them!). Most hedges don't necessarily flower, but a hedge is a long-term feature/structure and you don't want to be trying to replant it every year. It isn't summer bedding. In many ways, a hedge can be a longer surviving feature than a brick wall (let alone a fence).

    Ragarding pruning - do you still have a local library? If so, there may be some good books on the shelf which give pictorial demonstrations/examples (a picture being worth however many words). RHS publications are worth a read. I think they do (or have done) a thin tome on training and pruning, with a lot of info condensed into a relatively small book.

    Good luck with the hedge.

  • I agree, cut them back - I'd do the job in Jan/Feb and then give them a good sprinkling of pelleted chicken manure - but firstly this autumn you need to clear that grass from around their bases - afraid it's a "down on your hands and knees" job and pull it well away from the stems of the plants and clear a strip a foot wide each side of the hedge.  That grass is robbing the privet of water and nutrients.


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

  • Thanks, I will give the cutting back a go, the grass around the base was a temporary feature!, so i will remove that. This summer has been so hectic that the rest of the garden has been quite neglected (what the picture doesnt show is just how big the garden is).

    Thanks for the advice though.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,029

    I'd agree with the comments tricky. Preparation is key because a hedge is a big investment in time even if not in money. Giving it a good start is well worthwhile. I wonder if there's poor drainage underneath and therefore a really wet boggy area? Wet usually does more damage than anything and hedging is like most plants- it doesn't like sitting with it's feet in water. When you look at how well the other part is doing that could be the reason. When I put a hedge in a previous garden I chose Hornbeam as it's more tolerant of damper ground, but really wet stuff will make anything struggle. It may be a 'digging out' job and getting good drainage I'm afraid. 

    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.