The Q&A Archives: Dying Privet

Question: I have a long established privet hedge. Over the last few years a section has been dying back. Each year more and more dies. It seems to be very brown and brittle in places. Nearby is a greengage tree which does not look too healthy and a row of leylandii which seem ok.
What is happening and can I stop any further loss?

Answer: Based on your description it is impossible to make a diagnosis of the problem, but several possibilities come to mind. First I would check for growth of nearby plants which may have begun to interfere with these in terms of competing for sunlight, moisture, or nutrients. Next I would look for any changes in the soil or fertilizing, in watering patterns, changes in runoff or nearby grading or contruction. I would check for a leaky gas line, too, if that happens to be near the affected plants. Next I would look for any type of tunneling rodent or soil based insect or soil disturbance in the area. Finally I would look again very carefully at the affected plants for any indication of insect or disease problem paying special attention to new growth compared to the more mature foliage and stems. Good luck with your detective work!

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