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How to Trim Privet Hedges for Solid Borders

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Authored by Suzanne Alicie in Gardening
Published on 10-04-2009

Privet hedges are a wonderful choice to create a privacy border. Their full green branches can be trimmed to create a virtual wall of greenery. While privet hedges grow tall quite quickly, it can take several years to create a solid border using privet hedges. This is because the new growth on a privet hedge tends to grow long and tall throughout the spring and summer, which provides height but not solidity. To form a solid border using privet hedges you must be merciless with the trimming shears.

Ideally to create a solid border privet hedges should be spaced about 2 feet apart when they are planted. During the first year allow the hedges to set their roots and begin a growth pattern. Do not trim or cut anything during the first growing season which begins in early spring and ends in the fall. At the end of the season before the first frost trim approximately one third of the height of the hedges. This will leave the hedges short and full. Try to only trim the tall branches and not the side branches that help the hedges grow together.

When spring comes around again the hedges will start sending up new shoots. These can be trimmed back throughout the spring and summer to make sure that new growth is kept close and the hedges will become thicker and bushier as they grow slowly upward. Once again in the fall trim away about one third of the height from the hedges.

By the third year the hedges will be fairly solid at the base and the lower few feet. To perpetuate the continual blending of the hedges into a solid border you must continue to trim some of the height away each year. This should not be a problem as privet hedges are known for their fast growth which is why they are chosen so often for borders.

If you do not trim the privet hedges regularly you will end up with tall, spindly borders with fullness only at the base. This not only does not meet the purpose of creating a border but also looks messy and unkempt. As the hedge forms a solid border you can trim the sides and provide some shape to the hedges while still maintaining the solidity.

Once you have a fully established and shaped privet hedge border it is easy to maintain by simply trimming the new growth each year. If by chance your privet gets unruly and spreads too much, simply cut it back. These wonderful hedges can survive being cut back almost to the ground to come back in the spring. So if you trim too much or don’t trim enough you really don’t have to agonize over it. Privet hedges once established are quite robust and will take even the most severe trimming in stride. Spring will bring about new green buds and ever growing branches to form a better border.

Privet hedges are virtually care free except for the trimming required to keep them in some semblance of order.

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