Planting Privet as a Hedge: What You Need to Know | Hedging UK
Green Privet, scientifically known as Ligustrum ovalifolium (Oval Leaved Privet), is an evergreen shrub native to East Asia. It belongs to the Oleaceae family, which also includes olive trees and Jasmine. Green Privet is a popular choice for hedges and ornamental purposes due to its dense foliage, attractive appearance, and adaptability to various growing conditions.
Below are some key features and characteristics of Green Privet. If you would like to see our Privet Hedging plants for sale please click the link:
Privet Plants Description:
Size and Growth:
Green Privet typically grows to a height of 3 to 4.5 metres (10 to 15 feet) with a spread of 1.8 – 3 metres (6 to 10 feet). It has a dense, bushy growth habit and forms a compact, rounded shape.
The oval-shaped leaves of Green Privet are glossy, dark green, and approximately 2.5 – 5cm (1 to 2 inches) long. They are arranged opposite each other along the branches.
In late spring or early summer, Green Privet produces small, creamy white flowers in clusters at the ends of its branches. The flowers are fragrant and attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
After the flowers fade, Green Privet develops small, spherical berries that transition from green to black as they mature. These berries are not edible for humans but provide a food source for birds.
Tolerance and Adaptability:
One of the notable characteristics of Green Privet is its ability to tolerate a wide range of growing conditions. It thrives in full sun to partial shade and can adapt to different soil types, including clay, loam, and sandy soils. It is also relatively drought-tolerant once established.
Green Privet is commonly used as a hedge or screening plant due to its dense foliage and fast growth rate. It can be easily pruned and shaped into formal hedges, making it a popular choice for landscape design.
It’s worth noting that Green Privet has various cultivars with slightly different characteristics, such as variegated foliage like our Golden Privet (Ligustrum Ovalifolium Aureum), offering additional options for landscaping purposes.
Is privet good for hedging?
Privet (Ligustrum) is commonly used for hedging and is considered one of the best hedging plants for use in the UK. Privet has several qualities that make it a popular choice:
Fast Growth: Privet hedges have a rapid growth rate, allowing them to establish quickly and provide privacy or screening in a relatively short period of time.
Dense Foliage: Privet hedges have dense foliage that can provide effective visual screening and create a barrier between properties or areas.
Versatility: Privet is a versatile plant and can be trimmed and shaped into various hedge forms, including formal hedges or more informal, natural-looking hedges.
Tolerant of Pruning: Privet hedges respond well to pruning and can be easily maintained at a desired height and shape.
Hardy and Resilient: Privet is generally a hardy and resilient shrub that can tolerate different soil conditions and a range of climates.
Where is the best place to plant a privet hedge?
Privet hedges are very versatile and will grow in many challenging locations. However, here are some general guidelines to consider:
Sunlight: Most privet varieties thrive in full sun to partial shade. Ideally, the chosen location will receive at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight each day.
Soil conditions: Privet hedges are adaptable to a wide range of soil types, but they prefer well-draining soil. Test your soil’s pH and make sure it falls within the suitable range for privet growth, which is typically between 6.0 and 8.0.
Wind exposure: Privet hedges can act as windbreaks, so consider planting them on the windward side of your property to provide protection to more delicate plants or outdoor living spaces.
Privacy or noise reduction: If you’re planting a privet hedge for privacy or noise reduction, plant it along the boundaries of your property, closer to where you want the screening effect.
Maintenance accessibility: Privet hedges require regular pruning and maintenance. Consider planting the hedge in a location where you can easily access all sides for trimming, shaping, and general care.
When is the best time to plant privet hedges?
The best time to plant privet hedges is typically Late Summer through to late Autumn or late Winter though to Spring. This allows the plants to establish their roots before the onset of higher temperatures or harsh weather conditions.
Here are some considerations for planting privet hedges:
Late Winter / early Spring:
Planting at this time, provides privet hedges with a few months to establish roots before the growing season begins. The soil is usually moist, and temperatures are moderate, which promotes root growth.
Planting in the Autumn, typically from late Summer to early Winter, is another suitable time for privet hedge installation. The soil is warm, allowing the roots to establish before Winter dormancy. However, ensure you plant early enough to allow sufficient time for root development before the first frost.
It’s important to note that planting during periods of extreme heat, such as the peak of summer, is generally not recommended as it can stress the plants and hinder their establishment. However, if planting during the summer months is unavoidable, take extra precautions to provide sufficient water and possibly some shade to protect the plants. Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the hedge will help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.
How far apart to plant Privet plants for a hedge?
When planting Green Privet (Ligustrum Ovalifolium) for a hedge, the spacing will depend on the desired density and size of the hedge at maturity.
Please take a look at our guide to how far apart to plant Privet plants to give you a better idea of how many plants to purchase in the first instance. The spacing of the plants depends on several factors.
- The size of plants initially purchased,
- The eventual height the hedge will be
- The time it will take to create dense hedge at that spacing
- Budget constraints
How do I plant a privet hedge?
The process of planting a Privet hedge is pretty simple and easy to accomplish. Please refer to our planting guide for more details.
How quickly does privet grow as a hedge?
Green Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) is a popular choice for hedging due to its dense foliage and fast growth rate. The specific growth rate can vary depending on the specific variety of privet, growing conditions, and the local climate. However, on average, green privet (Ligustrum Ovalifolium) hedges grow at a rate of around 30-60cm (1 to 2 feet) per year.
With proper care, including regular watering, pruning and feeding, privet hedges can establish quickly and fill out nicely within a few growing seasons. It is common for a privet hedge to reach a desirable height for screening or privacy purposes within 3 to 5 years.
Can you keep a privet hedge small?
Yes, it is possible to keep a privet hedge small by regular and consistent pruning. Privet hedges respond well to pruning and can be maintained at a desired height and size through regular trimming.
Here are some tips to keep a privet hedge small:
Regular Pruning: Perform regular pruning to control the growth of the hedge. Trim back new growth at least once or twice a year, depending on the desired size and growth rate of the privet hedge.
Hedge Height: Determine the desired height of the hedge and prune it accordingly. Trim the top and sides to maintain a compact and uniform appearance. It’s easier to keep a privet hedge small if you start pruning when it is young and regularly maintain its size.
Pruning Techniques: When pruning, it’s generally recommended to remove no more than one-third of the plant’s overall growth at a time. This allows the hedge to recover and regrow healthily. Use sharp pruning tools to make clean cuts and avoid damaging the hedge.
Maintenance Pruning: Throughout the growing season, perform light maintenance pruning to remove any stray or overgrown branches. This helps maintain the shape and size of the hedge and prevents it from becoming overgrown.
Consider Formal vs. Informal Shape: Decide whether you want a more formal, tightly clipped hedge or a looser, more natural-looking hedge. This will influence the frequency and extent of pruning required to maintain the desired size.
By consistently and appropriately pruning your privet hedge, you can effectively keep it small, compact, and well-maintained.
Do privet hedges lose their leaves in winter?
Most privet species are considered semi-evergreen, meaning they may retain their leaves during mild winters or in sheltered locations. However, in colder parts of the UK or during harsh winters, privet hedges can experience some leaf loss.
The extent of leaf loss can vary depending on the specific privet species, local climate conditions, and the severity of winter weather.
The Ligustrum Ovalifolium (Oval leaved privet cultivar has a tendency to hold its leaves better than wild Privet (Ligustrum Vulgare) in colder winters.
If maintaining a year-round green appearance is important to you, it may be worth considering other evergreen hedge varieties that are more reliably evergreen in colder winters. However, if you live in a milder part of the UK or don’t mind some temporary leaf loss during winter, privet can still be a suitable choice for a hedge.
What is the difference between Ligustrum Ovalifolium and Ligustrum Vulgare?
Ligustrum ovalifolium (commonly known as Oval leaved Privet) and Ligustrum vulgare (commonly known as common or wild privet) are two different species of privet with some notable differences. Here are the main distinctions:
Appearance: Ligustrum ovalifolium has oval-shaped leaves that are glossy and bright green. Ligustrum vulgare, on the other hand, has more narrow leaves that are slightly longer and not as glossy. The colour of the leaves can vary from light green to dark green.
Growth Habit: Ligustrum ovalifolium has a dense and compact growth habit, making it well-suited for hedges and topiary. It has a relatively fast growth rate. Ligustrum vulgare has a more open and upright growth habit, and it can grow taller, often reaching heights of 4m or more.
What is the lifespan of a privet hedge?
The lifespan of a privet hedge can vary depending on various factors such as species, growing conditions, maintenance practices, and local climate. On average, a well-maintained privet hedge can live for 30 to 40 years or even longer.
Proper care and maintenance play a significant role in the longevity of a privet hedge. Regular pruning, watering, and feeding help keep the hedge healthy and promote its overall lifespan. Neglected hedges that are not pruned or maintained appropriately may have a shorter lifespan.
It’s important to note that privet hedges can become overgrown and woody with age, which can affect their aesthetic appeal and health. Regular maintenance, monitoring for pests and diseases, and addressing any issues promptly can help extend the life of a privet hedge.
When is the best time to prune a privet hedge?
The best time to prune a privet hedge is during its dormant season or in early spring before new growth begins. Pruning during this time allows the hedge to recover quickly and promotes healthy new growth.
Late Winter or early Spring is an ideal time to prune privet hedges. By pruning just before the growing season starts, you encourage new growth to fill in any gaps and shape the hedge.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when pruning a privet hedge:
Tools: Ensure you have sharp and clean pruning tools, such as shears or hedge trimmers, to make clean cuts and reduce the risk of disease transmission.
Shape and Size: Consider the desired shape and size of your hedge before pruning. Privet hedges can be trimmed to formal shapes or left more natural-looking, depending on your preference.
Gradual Pruning: If your privet hedge has grown out of shape or size, it’s best to prune gradually over several seasons rather than performing severe pruning all at once. This approach allows the hedge to recover and minimizes stress.
Maintenance Pruning: Throughout the growing season, you may need to perform light maintenance pruning to remove any stray or overgrown branches. However, avoid heavy pruning during the summer as it can reduce the hedge’s ability to withstand stress.
Can a privet hedge be cut back hard?
Yes, a privet hedge will tolerate hard pruning which can often restore a neglected or overgrown hedge. Cutting a hedge back hard involves drastically reducing the size of the hedge by cutting the branches right back to the main stems. Even cutting some branches back to just a few inches above the ground.
Hard pruning is often done when a privet hedge has become overgrown, leggy, or has lost its shape. By cutting it back hard, you can stimulate new growth near the main stems or from the base of the plant, resulting in a more compact and rejuvenated hedge.
Here are some steps to follow when performing hard pruning on a privet hedge:
The best time for hard pruning is during the dormant season or in early spring before new growth begins. This allows the hedge to recover and regrow vigorously.
Prepare the hedge:
Clear away any debris or dead foliage around the hedge to make the pruning process easier and ensure a clean cut.
Decide which side:
It is best practice when undertaking severe hard pruning to just prune one side of the hedge per year. This gives the hedge some protection for regrowth by the non-pruned side. It also reduces the overall stress on the hedge at one given time.
Cut back the hedge:
Use sharp and clean pruning tools, such as loppers, secateurs or hedge trimmers, to cut the entire hedge back to the main stems removing all the leggy growth as shown in the picture below. Then reduce the height of the hedge to a manageable height for future maintenance 1.8m (6 foot) or below.
The hedge will now look very bare on this side of the hedge. In order to generate new growth across this side of the hedge without big gaps. Some selective pruning is required to space out where the new growth will regenerate from.
A little more care is required to select the stems or branches that can be cut back further. Select stems with the fewest branches to be cut back to just above ground level. Try and select stems around a 30cm (1 foot) apart to ensure new growth all along the base of the hedge. Next select stems to be cut back to 60cm height, again ideally 30cm apart. If possible select a further stems to be cut back to 120cm height.
The hedge will now appear very thin with branches cut back at varying heights. However when the new growth starts in the Spring this will emerge just below the pruning locations and new growth should quickly recover the bare stems all over this side of the hedge.
Further trimming and pruning may be required to fill in any gaps that have been missed but this is a much quicker way to restore a 6-foot hedge than cutting the whole hedge back down to ground level and starting again.
Dispose of the cuttings:
Remove and dispose of the cuttings properly. If the hedge was severely overgrown, you may need to hire professionals or use appropriate equipment to remove the large amounts of foliage.
Water and Feed:
After pruning, water the hedge thoroughly and apply a balanced fertilizer to promote new growth.
Once the new growth starts, you can perform regular maintenance pruning to shape and maintain the hedge’s desired size and form.
Keep in mind that hard pruning is a drastic measure and can be stressful for the plant. It’s important to monitor the hedge closely after pruning, provide adequate water and nutrients, and give it time to recover and regrow.
How do I keep my privet hedge healthy?
To keep your privet hedge healthy, it’s important to provide proper care and attention. Here are some tips to help maintain the health of your privet hedge:
Privet hedges benefit from regular watering, especially during dry periods or when newly planted. Deeply water the hedge, ensuring the moisture reaches the root zone. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot.
Soil Preparation and Feed:
Before planting, prepare the soil by loosening it and adding organic matter to improve drainage and nutrient content. Incorporate Bonemeal into the soil at planting which is high in phosphorous and promotes root growth. Annually apply a balanced slow releasing feed to the soil as a top dress. This will help to keep the hedge healthy with strong new growth.
Regular pruning is essential for maintaining the health and shape of your privet hedge. Trim back new growth once or twice a year to encourage density and promote air circulation. Remove any dead or diseased branches promptly. Avoid heavy pruning during the summer, as it may stress the plant.
Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the hedge, but avoid piling it against the stem. Mulching helps retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, suppress weeds, and improve soil health.
Pest and Disease Management:
Monitor your privet hedge for common pests such as aphids, scale insects, or spider mites. Treat infestations promptly using appropriate methods such as insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils. Also, watch for signs of fungal diseases like powdery mildew or root rot. Prune affected parts and use fungicides if necessary.
Regularly inspect your privet hedge for any signs of stress, discoloration, or abnormalities. Look for pests, diseases, or any other issues that may affect the health of the hedge. Early detection allows for timely intervention and treatment.
Maintenance and Weed Control:
Keep the area around the privet hedge clear of weeds and debris. Weeds can compete for nutrients and water, impacting the health of the hedge. Regularly remove weeds or use appropriate weed control methods.
Monitor Sunlight and Air Circulation:
Ensure that your privet hedge receives adequate sunlight and proper air circulation. Trim back any nearby plants or structures that may shade or impede airflow to the hedge.
By following these practices and addressing any issues promptly, you can help maintain the health and vigour of your privet hedge. Regular care and attention are key to ensuring its longevity and attractiveness.
Which grows faster a privet or laurel hedge?
Both privet (Ligustrum spp.) and laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) hedges are known for their relatively fast growth rates. However, the growth rate can vary depending on the specific species or cultivar within each group. In general, privet hedges tend to have a faster growth rate compared to laurel hedges.
Privet hedges, such as Ligustrum ovalifolium are known for their vigorous growth. They can typically achieve an average growth rate of (30 to 60 cm) per year under optimal conditions. This makes privet hedges one of the faster-growing species of hedging plants.
Laurel hedges, such as Prunus laurocerasus (English laurel) or Prunus lusitanica (Portuguese laurel), also have a reasonably fast growth rate but generally slower than privet (30-45cm and 20-40cm respectively).
Do Privet hedges have any potential drawbacks:
Lack of Seasonal Interest: Privet hedges are primarily valued for their dense foliage, but they may not offer much in terms of seasonal interest, such as colourful flowers or colourful Autumn foliage.
Maintenance: Privet hedges require regular pruning and maintenance to keep them in shape and prevent them from becoming overgrown.
Privet is very popular hedging plant and is one of the most commonly planted species in the UK. This is due to the versatility of this plant being easy to grow, easy to maintain and very reliable. As one of the faster growing species of hedging plants privet forms a dense hedge or screen in a very reasonable timeframe. It can thrive in a range of soil types and is adaptable to different light conditions, from full sun to partial shade. Regular care, including proper pruning, maintenance and feeding, will help ensure the health and longevity of Privet hedges in the UK.