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Privet hedge

Hi, I am new to gardening so would very much appreciate your advice. We bought our first house last Nov, at the front there is a well established privet hedge divided with our neighbour. Since we moved in we have not done any maintenance on our side. I assumed this was a once year thing but on looking this up have seen that we really should have trimmed it 2 or 3 times this year already.. Although this would have been difficult as until recently there were several nests in it. I have checked with our neighbour and they are happy for us to sort our side out. As it's been left to its own devices for at least a year it has grown quite far into our garden about 50-75cm beyond where I'd ideally like it. I'd really like to prune it as far back as possible, but I'm not sure how to go about this. Although it looks green and healthy (to me anyway) all the leaves are only on the first few cms. Behind this is simply a mass of branches. i don't know where to start in pruning it back, what should I be taking out and leaving? And if we cut it back to the bare branches, removing the leaves will it recover and grow new leaves or will we be left looking at bare branches forever?


  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 23,797

    I'd leave it until next Spring.

    You can cut it now, but it's unlikely to produce more leaves and you'll be left with a fairly unattractive hedge over the winter.

    When you've cut it back, give it a feed to help it get going again.

  • Snow MaidenSnow Maiden South Coast UKPosts: 862

    We have privit all the way around our property and keep it trimmed twice a year. In the past we have had to take drastic action and trim sections back quite hard  and although it does look a bit awful for a while it always grows back well. We also take cuttings each year......just a few to use to fill in any gaps should the need arise, they are very easy to grow. Our hedge is very healthy looking and grows well without any fussing. LP

  • mushermusher Posts: 389
    privets ars has tough as they come. Origins are Siberian. Yes by all means give it a relatively hard trim. This will invigorate it in to producing new leaf. But perhaps leave the pruning untli next spring. Soon after you will see the benefits of your labours
  • mushermusher Posts: 389
    sorry make sure there aren't any birds nesting
  • Whatever you do, and privets will take anything, don't let it flower - for no other reason than that it stinks, it has an awful smell. Cut it back smaller than the size you want it then it will produce new growth into the size you do.

  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 15,290

    I absolutely love the smell of the flowers, what I can't stand is those paper white narcissus, that is a stink, reminds me of dog do! Other people love them, each to his own.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 875

    Flowering privet is pollinated by moths and other pollinating insects and produces berries which thrushes will like....let it flower!!  

  • CloggieCloggie Posts: 1,177

    You could read up about shaping it, it's a good idea to have it narrower at the top than the bottom so the sun can reach all parts of it for better leaf but if it faces South like mine then you can just cut it into a "green wall".  

    I love my hedge which is about 10 feet tall and I tend to do about twice a year.  When I moved in, one part of it had got away from the previous owners and was turning into a tree (it was showing a girth of about 22cm).  I took a saw to it and chopped the trunk below the level of the rest of the hedge.  That part has now sprouted and I can cut the sprouts to the same level as the rest of the hedge.

    I find privet as tough as old boots and very forgiving so don't be scared of it but cut to the line you want, not the line it is.  If there is no perceivable line, then I look along the length and cut to halfway between the lowest and highest points.  Start slow and build up your confidence.  

    I would agree that a fairly heavy trim now to get you over winter then start shaping next spring.  The work is worth it in my opinion, it's like a massive piece of topiary full of birds! 

    Good luck.

  • mushermusher Posts: 389
    I to love the smell of privet Lyn. For me it smells like fresh air.
  • Privets produce the most nauseating smelling flowers, they make me heave, I cross the road to avoid them when in flower. Most privet hedges are of Ligustrum ovalifolium which is a vigourous evergreen from the far east. Although it flowers readily here it doesn'yt fruit that well and the berries very small dull things. I think the Privet Redwing has in mind is our native Ligustrum vulgare, deciduous in hard winters and a poor semi -evergreen in mild winters [ not a great hedge plant] . However it does produce a lot of glossy black berries and looks quite impresive in fruit.

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