How To Prune A Privet Hedge

One of the more commonly chosen varieties of hedging, Privet or Ligustrum, can be found across the country. Ideal for growing in tougher conditions with poor soil and shade, the deciduous shrub can be planted in almost any garden. In order to effectively maintain your privet hedges, there are a number of steps you can take to make sure that the plant looks healthy and beautiful year round.

The Best Time To Hard Prune Privet Hedges

For beginner gardeners, the process of hard pruning may seem like a complicated process, but in fact it is incredibly easy to understand once explained. With most shrubs, we generally encourage annual pruning which will keep them tidy and appearing overgrown with thick branches that have no true purpose. Through a process like hard pruning, you will essentially be able to cut back much of the plant to encourage the growth of newer branches in its place.

We find that the best time to hard prune a privet hedge is by the end of winter. There are a few key reasons for this. You don’t want to run the risk of disturbing any habitats or be left with an unsightly looking hedge over the warmer months.

If you are interested in keeping privet hedges for screening purposes, you will want to have it hard pruned/cut back on one side of the hedge for the first year and the other side on the year after. You can cut the hedge back approximately within 30m of the ground. Any further and you may end up with a plant that cannot grow back at all. Be sure to feed the hedges after with fertiliser and mulch, while keeping it significantly hydrated.

Overgrown Privet Hedge Pruning Tips

If you choose to trim your overgrown privet hedge from the outside, this can be done during the middle of spring, after growth has begun. This type of pruning is different from hard pruning as you will generally want to conduct a hard prune before growth begins for the new year.

When pruning your Privet hedge, be sure to wear gardening gloves as the sap produced by the plant is an irritant and can result in breaking out from rashes if contact has been made with skin.

One of the most important parts of privet pruning is to trim out any overgrown crossing branches, as well as removing dead or damaged branches that may result in the growth of the plant being hindered. These can be efficiently removed with gardening loppers. These are ideal for clipping down tougher woody stems, as well as hard to reach thinner stems.

After this step has been completed, you can shape your hedge by trimming down the outside of the plant. You will want to consider how tall you want to keep your hedge as well as how wide you want it to grow. Once you have determined the ideal height for your plant, you can purchase gardening stakes and cut them down to this length. These can then be planted as close as you can get to the centre of the hedge and tied to the plant with strings.

Using the string lines as guidance, you can shear the top of the privet and the sides of the hedge down to the bottom in a diagonal sloping direction. By doing this, you will be left with a hedge that is narrower on the top than towards the base. We recommend this form of pruning to ensure that the entire Privet hedge can have access to full light during the spring and summer months ahead.

For the best results, treat your newly pruned Privet hedge to a generous feed and mulch, this will give maximum new growth and make the hedge full and bushy more quickly.

For further help and advice on how to prune a Privet hedge in the UK, contact the Hopes Grove Nurseries team. Alternatively, for more guidance articles, why not take a look at our extensive Knowledge Base? We have a number of blog posts relating to hedge growth and maintenance.