Privet Hedges

Ligustrum ovalifolium, (or Oval-leaved Privet) is native to Japan but has made a second home in Britain where it is our most popular hedging plant.

Hardy and unfussy privet hedging can attain a height of 4m but a lower height is easily maintained by pruning in August. If you want to maintain the geometric neatness of an established hedge throughout the summer, it can be frequently trimmed. This is also the way to keep the flowers at bay if you are not a fan of their distinctive fragrance.

Privet is classified as a semi-evergreen because it does drop some leaves in autumn and winter, generally from inside its form rather than from the outside face and any such drop will compromise neither its good looks nor the privacy it offers. In short, privet creates a superb, medium size and effectively evergreen garden hedge.

Privet Hedge FAQs

  • When should I plant my privet hedge?

As privets are relatively unfussy, they can grow well even in polluted soil. As such, no particular measures are needed to make the soil acceptable before planting – other than digging the ground over and removing any weeds as you normally would.

Autumn is the best season to plant your hedge, although planting all year round with container grown is acceptable.

  • How do I care and feed my privet hedge? 

If planting in the drier months, it should be watered regularly until it’s established. For a newly-planted hedge, we’d recommend watering every 2-3 days. It’s better to water generously 3 times a week, rather than a little every day.

In terms of fertilisation, privet hedges are relatively hardy, and so don’t usually require fertilisation to thrive – however you may decide to use it to give your hedge a helping hand growth-wise.

If you prefer to use a natural fertiliser, you can mix some well-rotten manure in with the top 10 inches of soil before planting your hedge. This is especially valuable in giving your hedge a strong start if you know your soil is lacking in nutrients.

In terms of artificial fertiliser, we’d recommend using it no more than twice per year, in spring and summer. A 15-5-10 fertiliser is best for privets, and don’t forget to water your hedge well after fertilising to ensure the product sinks in and reaches root-level.

  • Why are my privet leaves turning brown? Is my privet hedge dying?

There are many reasons your privet hedge could turn brown. It may be due to pests, diseases, cold/ wet weather or establishment failure.

Regularly treating your hedge with a natural insecticide will help save it from pests such as aphids or spider mites. This is a relatively easy fix, however if waterlogged soil is the reason then your hedge may require better drainage – which can sometimes be labour-intensive.

  • Do I need to prune?

Pruning isn’t necessarily required keep your privet in good health, but if you’d like to keep it looking neat and formal you should prune several times during the growing season. If you aren’t too worried about the shape however, we’d recommend giving your hedge just one thorough prune in August.

Need to know how many plants?


Enter the length of your proposed hedge in metres below and the number of plants we recommend will appear.

For this particular species we would recommend a double row of plants for the best hedge.

Single Row

Length of your hedge (m) We recommend0 plants for this length and when planting; our recommendation is to space each plant 65 centimetres apart.

Double Row

Length of hedge (m) We recommend0 plants for this length and when planting; our recommendation is to space each plant 65 centimetres apart.

Privet Hedge at-a-glance

Maintenance: An annual haircut to maintain its shape and height is essential and best done in August, though trimming throughout the growing season will do no harm.

Versatility: It makes an excellent and easy-to-maintain hedge – if you are looking for a container plant, Box is perhaps the better choice – though much slower growing.

Foliage Type: Semi-Evergreen
Display: Pale, distinctively scented flowers
Hardiness: ✯✯✯✯✯
Ease of maintenance: ✯✯✯✯✯
Versatility: ✯✯✯
Drought Resistance: ✯✯✯✯✯
Soil type: Acid or Alkaline. Any well-drained soil in sun or partial shade.
Preferred situation: Sun / Light Shade
Height:  Up to 4m
Growth Rate: Medium