How to Cut Privet


Due to their ability to withstand heavy pruning, privets are widely used as hedges in landscapes. The privet family consists of 40 to 50 species of semi-evergreen, evergreen and deciduous shrubs and small trees. They can grow 15 to 40 feet tall and do so quickly. So, they require pruning to stay in check. Knowledge of how to go about this will give you a healthy and contained shrub for your landscape.

Step 1

Sterilize your pruning shears before using them. Go over the blades with rubbing alcohol and a rag. This will decrease the spread of disease to your privets.

Step 2

Cut out diseased foliage whenever you see it. Privets are particularly susceptible to leaf spot, which appears as dark brown spots on the leaves. Prune the branches back to the trunk and get rid of the diseased foliage to stop the spread.

Step 3

Cut the privet more heavily in winter, when the tree is dormant. Cut all broken and dead branches right outside the root collar (the raised area where the stem joins another branch or the trunk).

Step 4

Shape the privet accordingly at this time, especially in the first two years of growth. This shrub is dense and does not allow light to get to the base, creating patchy growth. To alleviate this problem, cut the branches so that the base of the shrub is wider than the top.

Step 5

Renovate the shrub if it gets out of hand. To do this, cut all the branches down to the base of the plant. The privet will rebound from this haircut with vigor.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Rag
  • Rubbing alcohol


  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Ligustrum or Privet
  • North Carolina State University: Pruning Shrubs
  • University of Illinois Extension: Prune Shrubs on a Regular Basis
Keywords: pruning privets, cutting privets, trimming privets

About this Author

Sarah Morse recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English language and literature. She has been freelancing for three months and got her start writing for an environmental website.