Privet hedges are perennial, deciduous shrubs that can reach a mature height of 16 feet if left unpruned. They hold their leaves into winter, and the leaves are dropped before spring. Privet hedges are used as privacy screens and windbreaks in landscape design. You will need to prune your privet hedge to control its size and shape, and for safety reasons if it is near a walkway. Pruning can be done from late spring through midautumn. The hedge also can be pruned several times throughout the year. Some homeowners choose to prune their hedges every eight weeks during the summer season.
Place a stake at each end of the hedge. The stakes need to be as tall as you want your pruned hedge to be. Tie a string to the top on one stake, and connect it to the top of the other stakes. This will be your guideline when pruning your hedge. If you have a good eye you may feel this isn't necessary. This is entirely up to you--some gardeners find it helpful to set up a guideline, as it provides a straight line and ensures an even hedge row.
Prune your hedge down to the desired height. You can use an electric hedge trimmer or a manual hedge trimmer. For safety reasons, if you are trimming a high hedge and you are using a ladder, it is best to use a manual hedge trimmer. (Note: Care should always be taken when working with electric trimmers.) Wear safety glasses if you are using an electric hedge trimmer.
Prune the sides of your privet hedge to keep it within your desired space. Again, you can use either an electric hedge trimmer or a manual hedge trimmer. You can also choose to be creative and trim the privet to create topiaries. Prune the hedge to the desired shape with your electric or manual hedge trimmers.