How to Prune a Privet Shrub


There is a variety of privet shrub species: Amur privet, Chinese privet and Japanese privet. They can reach a height of 16 feet and are a semi-deciduous, perennial shrub. They retain their leaves into winter, and drop some before spring. White blossoms appear in June or July, which give way to black berries. In landscape design they are often used as a hedge. The privet will require pruning to maintain its shape. You can prune it from late spring through mid-autumn two or three times a year, if desired. Some gardeners prune lightly every eight weeks during the growing season.

Step 1

Set up a cutting guide line with string and two stakes. This is useful when you are cutting a long hedge. Stake it at both ends of the hedge row. It is not necessary, but some gardeners find it helpful to maintain an even line.

Step 2

Cut off the excess growth with an electric hedge trimmer or a manual hedge trimmer within your string lines and at the height you prefer. You can shape the privet in a boxy manner, especially if you have several forming a hedge; a rounded shape or a more natural shape.

Step 3

Create topiary, if you wish, by pruning and shaping the privet to the desired shape with your electric or manual hedge trimmers. Some gardeners create geometric shapes or even animal shapes.

Tips and Warnings

  • When using electric hedge trimmers, wear safety glasses and use extreme caution.

Things You'll Need

  • String
  • Two wooden stakes
  • Electric hedge trimmers
  • Manual hedge trimmers


  • Garden Space
  • Tennessee Exotic Plant Management Manual
  • Nature Hills Nursery
Keywords: privet hedge shrub, topiary shape animals, electric hedge trimmers

About this Author

Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational columns "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in Oconee Today, a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies." "From Death to Living in the Light" and "Spiritual Intelligence" will be released by Ezop has a BA degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.