Cutting Back Privet: How And When To Prune Privet Hedges

Image by michaelpuche

By Teo Spengler

Privet hedges are a popular and attractive way of delineating a property line. But if you plant a hedge, you’ll find that privet hedge pruning is a must. If you are wondering when to prune privet hedges or how to prune a privet hedge, read on. We’ll provide tips on cutting back privet.

Pruning Privet Hedges

Privet (Ligustrum spp.) is an excellent shrub for hedges. It has oval or lance-shaped leaves and grows dense, compact foliage. Privet is an evergreen bush in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10.

Privet works well for tall privacy screens. It is one of those shrubs that make good hedges 5 feet (1.5 m.) tall or taller. But privet gets leggy and uneven over time. In order to keep these hedges looking neat and attractive, you’ll definitely need to start privet hedge pruning.

When to Prune Privet

You’ll want to undertake these pruning steps in late winter. That is, removing damaged branches or opening the interior of the shrub should be done before spring growth begins.

When to prune privet by trimming the outside of the hedge? This type of privet hedge pruning should take place in mid-spring after the annual growth has begun.

How to Prune a Privet Hedge

Privet hedge pruning involves cutting back privet shrubs. Pruning privet hedges requires some effort, but it is worth the time and energy. You’ll need to wear gloves since privet sap causes irritation and rashes.

So how to prune a privet hedge? The first step in privet hedge pruning is to trim out crossing branches. You’ll also want to keep cutting back privet to remove damaged or dead branches. Remove them at their base with loppers.

Once you finish this, remove several large branches from the inside of each shrub to open up the center of the hedge. Use bypass pruners for this, cutting back each branch to a side branch.

In time, you’ll want to trim and shape the outside of the privet hedge. You first want to determine how high you want your hedge. Then get several stakes of that height and plant them in the ground toward the center of the hedge. Tie a string between the stakes.

Shear the top of the privet along the string line, then shear the face of the hedge down to the bottom in a diagonal downward slope. The hedge should be narrower at the top than the base on each side in order to allow light to touch the entire hedge face.

To rejuvenate a privet hedge, cut the entire hedge back to within 12 inches (30 cm.) of the ground. Do this in late winter. The shrubs resprout after being cut back hard.

Print This Article
This article was last updated on
Did you find this helpful?
Share it with your friends!

Additional Help & Information

Didn't find the answer to your question? Ask one of our friendly gardening experts.

Do you know anything about gardening? Help answer someone's gardening question.

Read more articles about Ligustrum.

Search for more information

Use the search box below to find more gardening information on Gardening Know How: