The Q&A Archives: Pruning a Privet Hedge

Question: I planted a privet hedge about 4 years ago along the top of a berm. It has grown very well. I trim it down each spring. However, it is now about 4 feet tall but not bushing out at the bottom. How can I get it to fill in at the bottom? Should I trim it back severely?

Answer: Privet responds well to drastic pruning, which is one reason it's such a popular hedge and topiary shrub. Cut it back hard, either to within a few inches of the ground or to a few longer branches. Always make the top a bit narrower than the bottom to allow the sun to reach the lower branches encouraging full, green growth. Maintain good density by cutting back a third of the older stems each season while the shrubs are dormant, and shear it regularly during the spring and summer.

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