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Renovating Privet Hedge

Pruning Privet Hedges Way Back

By: Sandy Feather ©2008
Penn State Extension


Q. I have a small, very old, privet hedge that needs to be renovated by cutting it back severely. Also, there are 3 large privets that need the same treatment. When should this severe pruning be done and how far should they be cutback?

A. Mid-March is generally the best time to perform radical renovation of most shrubs, including privet and privet hedges (Ligustrum spp.). We are generally past the worst of winter’s cold by then, and they will begin to push new growth as the weather warms in spring. Privet can tolerate being cut back very hard, to within a few inches of the ground.

Privet hedge
Privet has long been a popular
choice for sheared hedges


 

Once the hedge has grown back some, it is a good idea to start shearing it into the proper shape to direct future growth. A properly pruned hedge is wider at the bottom than the top. This allows sun to reach the lower leaves, resulting in a hedge that is dense and full all the way to the ground. It also minimizes snow load in the winter that can push stems apart and create “holes” in a neatly sheared hedge. It is quite common to see hedges sheared just the opposite, resulting in a leggy hedge with very little foliage on the lower third of the plants.


MORE

Pruning Hydrangeas

Trimming Rhododendrons

When to Prune Shrubs

       


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