Privet – Hedging


Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) is a tough little shrub. It has been in the British Isles for centuries and has adjusted so well that it will grow in almost any soil (except a bog perhaps) and is happy in fairly deep shade as well as in the sun. Privet hedges comfortably handle winters far worse than any we are likely to see again. It is quick growing and rapidly forgives mistakes made while clipping as it happily grows back as well from old wood as from new. Great in towns, forgiving of pollution, tolerant of abuse; on balance a Privet hedge is a good choice.But it would be a much better one if it was properly planted.

Step One

Always begin with the plants - bare rooted privet hedge plants establish very fast and are much more economical than privet grown in pots. The planting season for bare root plants is from the beginning of November the the middle of March (ideally the end of February). If you can plant within this time frame, you will have to ante up and go for pot grown privet instead.

Step Two

Prepare the planting area really well; privet may be tough but it is enormously greedy and it will reward you with rapid lush growth if it is started in ground that has plenty of organic matter incorporated as well as a small handful of bonemeal per metre of hedge (always follow the instructions on the pack). Be generous - a privet hedge can still be around in a 70 or 80 years (and will still be looking good).While improving the ground, it is a good idea to get rid of larger stones, perennial weeds, tree roots and other detritus. Break up the soil - all plants establish better if their roots can move easily in the ground soil.

Step Three

On the assumption that you are planting bare root Privet, wet the roots well. We always advise taking a bundle of plants (usually tied up in 25's) out of the parcel in which they were delivered and immediately putting it into water (have a bucket with you all the time you are planting). Cut the string or cable tie holding the bundle together, taking care not to damage the plants. As the soil has been well prepared, it is soft and so it is simple enough to dig a hole for each plant, but we think it quicker to take out a trench just a little wider but no deeper than the roots. It is easier, amongst other things, to space your hedge plants evenly in a trench than by digging holes.

Step Four

Plant a privet hedge in a single row - there is no need for two rows and staggered spacing. Don't over crowd the plants - 3 plants per metre is good. Use a couple of sticks and a bit of string stretched taught to ensure the hedge is straight space the plants at exactly 33 cm intervals - uneven spacing shows up for years afterwards. Always make sure your hedging is well firmed in and that the finished soil level is the same as when they were lifted. On most plants you will find a "high tide mark"on the stem showing where the soil was previously). A good mistake with privet hedging is to plant too shallow, a really bad one is to plant too deep.

Step Five

If you are planting potted privet outside the winter months, make sure the top of the compost in the pot is level with the surrounding soil. Apart from that, just plant containerised privet as outlined for bare-root plants above.

Step Six

As soon as you see the first new leaves emerging, trim the tops of your plants - reduce bare root plants in height by about a third. It will make them bushier at the base. Water well, sit back and watch them grow.


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