Everything You Need to Know About Privet Hedge Pruning!

Everything You Need to Know About Privet Hedge Pruning!

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Lush green, perfectly sheared, and shaped Privet hedges impart a regal, streamlined appearance to your landscape! So how do you achieve those beautiful green rows or high-style specimen topiaries for your yard without losing your cool?

Privet hedges may have been first used in the Neolithic Age to protect cereal crops and have been used as hedgerow shrubs in Elizabethan gardens throughout England since its introduction in 1885 from Japan. But here in the US, when someone thinks of Privet hedges, one of the first things that come to mind is the University of Georgia's "Between the Hedges" in Sanford Stadium.

Read on to learn about the finer details of Pruning a Privet Hedge!

What Is a Privet Hedge?

A hedge is a type of living boundary comprised of bushes or shrubs. While you can create a hedge from many types of plants, the flowering plants in the genus Ligustrum are the mostprivet hedges popular for this application because of their utter ease of care, fast growth, heat and cold tolerance, and ability to handle a shearing every year without flinching!

The Privet genus is a member of the Olive family. The common name Privet came about in the first century from the Roman author and naturalist, Pliny the Elder! Privet shrubs are native to Europe, Northern Africa, and Central Asia, and many varieties were used as herbal medicine and in flower arrangements alike. Ornamental hedges crafted with Privet bushes became popular in Britain during World War II when iron gates and railings were confiscated for armament manufacture.

While it may seem like a manicured Privet hedge (or any kind of shrub hedge) is for the rich and famous, with a few pointers and the right timing, you too can have that castle Labyrinth or topiary garden in your own backyard!

Ligustrum Shrub Varieties

Find easy-care, fast-growing Privet shrubs for a wide range of USDA planting zones 4 to 10 at Nature Hills!

Privet hedges tolerate windy, exposed sites and heavy pruning, performing well in urban settings where there is pollution. Privet grows well in sun or partially shaded areas, but will not do well in heavy, wet soils. Many of these plants are salt tolerant, insect resistant, urban environment friendly, and drought tolerant once established!

  • Windbreaks/Blocks Drifting Snow privet hedge as topiary
  • Privacy and Screening
  • Property Definition
  • Creating Outdoor Rooms/Living Walls
  • Topiary Specimens and Shapes
  • Smaller Varieties are Great Container Thrillers
  • Fantastic Foundation and Backdrop Hedges

Privet shrubs bear white flowers in late spring to early summer, and these sweet-smelling flowers are born in panicles on last year's wood. Pollinators will seek out these blooms every spring, followed by songbirds in the fall when the Privets produce berries that can be red to purple to black. Plus birds love nesting and roosting in the dense canopies of these bushes! Get the most flowers and berries on unpruned hedges and informal plantings.

Plus there are several other varieties of these fantastic shrubs and we’re sure one of them is the perfect Privet shrub for your landscape and growing zone!

Amur North River Privet 

One of the most popular hedge shrub varieties in the U.S. for its fragrant white spring blooms, cold hardiness, nice upright form, and tolerance of both full sun and partial shade. 

California Privet Hedge

Create a Privet hedge with personality by opting for California Privet Hedge. Oval-shaped medium-green leaves feature an eye-catching yellow underside, and highly scented summer blooms attract a bevy of pollinators.

Sunshine Ligustrum

Hot climates love the lemony-hued broad-leaved evergreen foliage for cheerful yellow foliage that remains sunny and golden all winter long. Hardy throughout USDA zones 6 to 10, Sunshine is a bright and colorful, accent and low, rounded hedge for your landscape.

Cheyenne Privet

One of Nature Hills’ highest-rated Privets, Cheyenne was developed in the harsh climate of Wyoming, so will thrive in Zones 4 - 8. When used as a formal hedge, these carefree, fast, and easy-to-grow plants will need pruning to keep them shaped up, neat, and tidy but will also look great left informal and natural.

First Editions® Straight Talk® Privet

The Straight Talk® Privet is space-saving and columnar in form and can potentially grow 10 - 12 feet in height with a spread of only 2 - 4 feet. Considered almost bullet-proof once established, Straight Talk® is an adaptable and small-footprint hedge

Waxleaf Privet

Very heat-tolerant broadleaved evergreen with glossy deep-emerald leaves, the Wax Leaf or Waxleaf Privet is hardy throughout USDA growing zones 7 to 11! Still filling out in the same drifts of fragrant white flowers and berries for birds when left unpruned, the fine-textured leaves are very conducive to shearing and shaping like all the rest.

Plus there are many more varieties to choose from!

Privet Spacing

Depending upon the function of your hedge, different spacing is based on the mature spread of the plant. For a uniform, dense hedge it is ok to plant them on 2-3 foot-on-centers. Both sideshouse with privet hedges of the plants within the hedge will be exposed to the sun, but the plants will grow together on the sides. Overcrowding can mean increased competition for resources and also lead to shading each other out, plus cause issues from poor air circulation.

  • Creating a solid wall with no gaps - space your plants just under their mature width (see Plant Highlights) apart from each other on-center (measuring from the center of one to the center of the next). 
  • Informal or zigzagged spacing (some gaps) - Plant the shrubs mature width apart or more for a looser arrangement.

Why Choose Privet Shrubs?

Privets have a definitive edge over other hedge shrubs like Boxwood (Buxus), evergreen and deciduous Holly, Myrtle, Laurel, Yewprivet white blooms (Taxus), and many other evergreen bushes. They are faster growing than Boxwood, plus their flowers are fragrant and much showier! The fall black to purple/red fruits are especially loved by songbirds too!

Privet can be evergreen to semi-evergreen and handle tougher sites than most other broadleaved evergreens - especially in urban environments and exposed locations that may result in winter burn or wind burn for other types of shrubs.

Ligustrums are valued for their ability to be sheared into a wide range of forms,privet hedge fruit including smooth curves, and highly defined, split-level designs.

In a few areas of the states, Privet can be a bit naughty, but Nature Hills Nursery protects at-risk areas with Plant Sentry™ to remain compliant with all state and federal agricultural regulations.

Pruning Your Privet Hedges

During the summer, the hedges at the University of Georgia's Sanford Stadium are trimmed once a week to keep them in shape, but by no means do you need to be that meticulous! It may require a few prunings during the growing season for formal applications.

Your Privet shrubs from Nature Hills arrive already at least 3-4 years old and you can begin training them and keeping them growing nice and dense from their first year.

Informal Hedges

While you don’t have to prune these shrubs into perfectly manicured shapes, it is part of their appeal! However, a natural hedge of Privet allows you (and your pollinators and songbirds) toprivet hedge in the backyard enjoy more than just the greenery! The fragrant spring flowers and fruit in the fall on pollinated shrubs are equally beautiful and just as effective for privacy and screening. Informal hedges can be tidied up right after they flower for best results. 

  • Bloom on old wood
  • Fragrant white flowers
  • Bird-friendly fruit in fall
  • Fluffy informal yet tidy appearance

Formal Hedges

For a clean, formal, and designer-looking landscape, you can shear and prune Privets just about any time of the year between late spring andzoomed in privet hedge in the backyard mid-autumn and it can be pruned or sheared 2 or 3 times a year with no harm to the plant. Northern growers should have the last pruning in early July to clean up any stragglers.

Formal hedges are pruned and sheared right after their initial spring flush of growth and are usually not encouraged to bloom or set fruit. These are used for their greenery only.

  • Easily shaped
  • Easy to keep tidy and uniform
  • Dense and full appearance
  • Fast growing

Shear up until late summer (about every time they grow about 6 inches) But stop pruning or shearing after late autumn so any new growth that emerges has a chance to ‘harden off’ before winter. This means that new fresh green growth becomes woody and will have a better chance of not dying off through the cold months of winter.

Privet Pruning Tips

Hand shearing and pruning are fine for smaller hedges and single specimens, but if you have a living wall of Privet, invest in a good electric or gas-powered hedge trimmer to trim the shrubs.pruning privet with garden shears Keep the blade as sharp as possible to prevent torn and jagged edges. Occasionally, hand-pruning works great, cutting some Privets back to about 12 inches in the early spring to encourage new growth and keep them healthy with this renewal pruning every 3-5 years.

Privet is ideal for topiary and you can use electric shears to create informal or other shapes. Pruning makes privet vigorous and the regrowth is denser after each trimming. Privet will create new growth in former leafless areas when the sun hits it.

This is why pruning so the bottom of your hedge is slightly wider than the top allows more light to penetrate the interior and keep them fluffy and full! It is verypruning with electric trimmer important that hedges be trained so they are wider at the ground and slightly more narrow at the top. Keeping the tops narrower than the bottom will allow the plants to hold foliage all the way to the ground (if grown wider at the top, the bottoms get shaded out and will not have leaves on the bottom.

Pruning Tips

  • Keep shears or clippers sharp
  • Lay down a tarp for easy clipping collection
  • Choose a day that won’t get too hot and after the dew has dried from the leaves
  • Angle hedges so the bottom is wider than the top for sunlight penetration

Privet Care

Overall, caring for Privet is easy! It is a plant that will grow to hedge size quickly and doesn't have many health issues, pest-related problems, or mind pollution.

  • Full Sun and/or Partial Shade
  • Moderately Consistently Moisture Availability
  • Well-Drained Enriched Soil
  • Slow-Release Fertilizer in Spring
  • Appreciates 3-4 Inches of Arborist Mulch

Manicured Rows of Greenery!

Get the most of our landscape with some mindfully placed hedges and you’ll reap the benefits of curb appeal and home property values! Hedges are a fantastic multi-purpose asset for the home and commercial landscape, only requiring you to perform maintenance once or twice a year! Sometimes that’s less work, less money, and better looking than fencing!

So head over to check out the fantastic varieties of Privets for your new landscape upgrade today at NatureHills.com and create your own Privet hedgerows to carve out green space in your garden today!

Happy Planting!

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