The Q&A Archives: Uneven Privet Problems

Question: We put in a bare root privet hedge about 4 yrs ago. It lies between two huge maple trees. The shrubs in the middle get sun all day and look great. On each end, closest to the maples, the shrubs have shade all day and look pathetic--alive, but much smaller and thinner. We don't know if it might be a water problem or a shade problem. However, I've seen other privet hedges in this area do well in similar conditions. One amateur nursery person suggested it might be an underground gas leak. My husband says that isn't it. Any input would be appreciated!

Answer: Privet does best in full sun with good soil and ample moisture. To be honest I suspect the ends of the hedge are sitting on or near maple roots and are struggling because they can't oucompete the trees for water, nutrients and sunlight. Unfortunately, in cases like this there is very little you can do to even out the hedge short of removing the trees. You could try to give those sections extra water and fertilizer, though, and see if it helps a bit, but they will not look as good as the middle plants out in more light. With regard to the gas leak, the gas company can tell you if there is a gas line there and if so will check it for leaks. If there is a chance that is the case you really should call them right away.

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