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Privet given a crew cut

  • Privet given a crew cut
  • Privet given a crew cut

I've had a good go at a Privet hedge today that had grown to about 4-5 feet wide and on my side of the garden from my neighbours had grown quite spindly. i have cut it right back to bare stems and am now beginning to wonder if I have done the right thing. Can anyone tell me if this will grow back. I am afraid it might leave me with wood stems and shoots at the top only. Photos included. I really hope I have not caused a disaster.

Comments (11)

  1. Grower


    Hi Tony
    Thank you, I know you can do this sort of thing with Laurel hedging, but never tried with Privet. I remember My mum cutting back quite hard but never to the extent i have with this one ! Oh dear.

  2. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Hi Mick,

    Yes! It will grow back! I've written about this exact situation back in May - Restoring an overgrown hedge - which should give you heart, especially if you follow the instructions for aftercare: feed, water, clear out the bits etc.

    If you want even more detail, I've also blogged about it, including photos of the hedge two months later, with new growth starting: Hedges: recovering an overgrown one .

    I would just say that Laurel hedging should never be done with a strimmer or hedgetrimmer, as you will end up with masses of dead, brown, cut, leaves: large-leaved shrubs like Laurel need to be done with loppers, removing entire branches, and yes, your Mum was perfectly right to cut them back really hard.

    Small leaved hedging, like your Privet, and the Lonicera nitida in my posts, can be power-tooled with impunity, and you have done a cracking job with yours, well done!

    As Tony said, it takes a brave man to do it (I am using "man" the sense of "short for hu-man" there!) but you will be rewarded with what feels like a suddenly larger garden and more light to the land around it!

    So the answer to your question is yes, it will green up, and although the top (which gets the most light) will green up first, the newly exposed stems will green up too - and you can help them to do so quickly by following my suggestions for feeding and watering.

    Perhaps Tony will pay you to do his one!!

  3. Grower


    Hi Rachel,
    Thank you! I feel so much better now, i can clear my garden without trepidation of thinking i have ruined my hedge. Ive just read your blog, thank you for the advice, What a brilliant job you did on that hedge !
    There is a lot of debris at the bottom of the hedge which i will clear out and then give it a feed like you advised. Its good to know i have done the right thing, without really thinking about it !

  4. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Mick, you are obviously a natural - most people are too scaredy-cat to do a "proper" job on their hedges!

    I forgot to say, if you look at your second pic, you can clearly see where someone has reduced the height of the hedge by about 2' below where the top is now - can you see it? There is a distinct line running across it, with big stems below, and much smaller ones above, that line. This is very typical, and is a lovely illustration of apical dominance!

  5. Grower


    Hi Rachel,
    Yes I see that line and very nearly took it down to just below where all the smaller ones have sprouted from, but i thought, well this is just taking it too far!

    It is amazing the amount of cuttings there is to clear away after you have cut the hedge back. They will be getting to know me quite well at the local recycle centre.

  6. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    (groans loudly) oh, you are so right about the volume of cuttings! And, annoyingly, they just won't "pack down" !!

    If you have a shredder, or can borrow one, you might find that some of the material can be shredded, which reduces the bulk considerably.

    And as for the overall height, well, maybe next year you can choose to reduce the height back to that cut line!

  7. Grower

    Richard Holland


    I really wouldn't bother feeding your privet (or watering it unless there is a lengthy dry spell) . I thinned my privet hedge heavily a few years ago and left it at that; the following year it had sprouted plenty of new growth. Privet is almost indestructible

  8. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Richard, you are quite right in that privet is virtually indestructable, but I stand by my advice to feed and water any hedge that has just had a drastic cut. It may not be necessary in every case, but in many cases it might make all the difference.

    Also, most people want to see signs of life as soon as possible to reassure themselves that they haven't killed it: and a little bit of tlc really helps the hedge to recover from the shock!

  9. Grower


    Hi Rachel
    Ive fed and watered it just to be on the safe side ! Ohh lordy imagine if it didn't recover and i hadn't watered it. I would never forgive myself and as you said Rachel, no harm in giving the hedge a helping hand as I want it to be bushy again next week LOL. still no signs of sprouting though. Patience is virtue as they say

  10. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Well done Mick ("bushy next week", lol!), I'm sure your patience will be rewarded. If you remember, on my blog I updated the post with pics of the new growth, which was a whole month later: and that was a Lonicera nitida hedge, which is one of the fastest growing hedging plants. So yours might take a little longer....

  11. Grower


    Hi Rachel

    thank you, yes if i can see some new growth by next spring i will be happy.

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