Answer: If the twigs snap off very easily and there is no thin band of green at all inside and you are sure they are truly lifeless, begin trimming the sticks away, working down towards the base of the plant. Eventually you should come to live wood. If not, the next step is to see if there is life left in the roots. They may surprise you and send up new shoots from the base. Privet is extremely hardy and also extremely resiliant so I would be a bit surprised to find them dead.
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