Rejuvenate privet hedge and get denser

Privet (Ligustrum) is the ideal hedge plant, as it grows quite quickly, growing by around 30 centimeters per year, and is also very tolerant of pruning. This is how you rejuvenate an old privet hedge and then let it grow more densely.

Optimum time

Because privet grows so quickly, you should prune it two to three times a year. Regular pruning ensures that the branches sprout more and the privet hedge becomes all the denser. The first cut takes place before sprouting in early spring. In good weather conditions – mild temperatures and dry weather – you should carry out the spring cut in March. A second cut, the maintenance cut, is best done by the end of June. A possible third cut can be made before the first frost in autumn.

But which cut can be made at what time?

  • Rejuvenation pruning: spring or autumn, on frost-free days
  • Putting on the hive: if possible in spring, on a frost-free day
  • Maintenance cut: early summer and/or autumn, at the latest before the first frost

Usually you cut your privet hedge twice a year. Only young hedges in the first three to four years are shortened again for educational purposes. The so-called “putting on the stick”, on the other hand, occurs with very old and bald privet hedges, which then sprout again and can be rejuvenated in this way.

Note: No radical pruning may be carried out between March and September in order not to disturb breeding birds. Only maintenance cuts, ie the removal of a few branches, are permitted.

Taper Cut: Instructions

Older, strongly grown privet often tends to bare. This results in leafless, woody areas, especially in the lower area, which are mostly caused by a lack of light and impair the appearance of the privet hedge. You have two options for rejuvenation:

  • Rejuvenation cut: remove around one to two thirds of the hedge
  • “Put on the stick”: radical cut back to just above the ground

You don’t need to fear strong or even radical cuts, because the robust wood quickly sprout again. If you now ensure a regular care cut, then the hedge will grow evenly and densely.

For the taper cut, do the following:

  • use manual or electric hedge trimmers
  • Sharpen and disinfect hedge trimmers
  • Cut away up to two thirds of the hedge
  • cut right into the old wood
  • Thin out the hedge on the inside, remove strong and crossing branches
  • cut away dead and diseased wood
  • Note the conical shape: wider at the bottom than at the top
  • water vigorously after cutting and fertilize (in spring).

Radical pruning makes sense?

If the privet hedge has not been cut for many years, sometimes only a radical pruning helps. Cut the wood down to just above the ground. However, this radical treatment needs to be carefully considered, as the hedge will then need a few years for its renewed growth. It is usually better to make a less drastic rejuvenation cut every year and thus preserve the appearance of the hedge.

Note: Never cut privet in winter, otherwise the hedge can freeze back if there is a sudden frost. Rejuvenating pruning should therefore always be carried out in spring or autumn.

Regular grooming

With a grooming cut, you are far less radical. It’s basically just about maintaining the uniform look. That is why some gardeners actually cut their privet hedge every few weeks so that it always looks nice and even and no cheeky twigs dare to protrude. In fact, frequent pruning has the advantage that the plant is stimulated to branch more – the more frequent the pruning, the better growth and branching – and therefore the hedge is all the denser. The care cut, actually a maintenance cut, is carried out according to these instructions:

  • use manual or electric hedge trimmers
  • Clean hedge trimmers and sharpen if necessary
  • Trim the hedge evenly from top to bottom
  • always stay in the “green”, don’t cut into the old wood
  • maintain a conical shape
  • water vigorously after cutting

The conical cut should ensure that the lower areas also get enough light and therefore develop a lot of leaf mass. If there is a lack of light, the hedge will otherwise become bare from below.

Tip: When rejuvenating the privet hedge, also make sure not to cut it on a sunny, hot day – an overcast sky and rather cool (but mild!) temperatures are better. Otherwise, it could cause drought damage in the form of brown, withered leaves.

frequently asked Questions

There are several species and cultivars of privet, most of which are evergreen (e.g. Ligustrum ovalifolium). When temperatures are mild, these plants go into winter partially green and only lose their strong, oval leaves in spring. The native privet species Ligustrum vulgare (also known as rain willow) is only summer green, with the exception of the ‘Atrovirens’ variety, in which the leaves remain attached even in winter. Only the Chinese privet (Ligustrum delavayanum) is actually evergreen.

The native rain willow (Ligustrum vulgare) should not be missing in any wild wood hedge, as it offers good hiding and nesting opportunities for birds. In addition, the black berries, which are poisonous to humans, are important food for garden birds in autumn. During the flowering period between June and July, countless butterflies, bees, bumblebees and other insects cavort on the nectar-rich, fragrant flowers. Privet can be socialized well with other native trees such as cornus, spindles, weigela, dogwood and barberries.

Privet bushes are very undemanding. They grow practically anywhere and also thrive in deep shade, for example under trees, as long as the soil is not too dry. A conical cut is important so that all parts of the privet hedge still get as much light as possible: the hedge should be wider at the base and taper significantly in height. Such a cut ensures that the lower part of the plants does not bare so quickly.

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