How to Plant a Privet Hedge
Some varieties of privet, such as common privet (Ligustrum vulgare) hardy in USDA zone 5 through 8, are considered invasive in the southeastern part of the United States. The berries are attractive to birds for food, contributing to the spread of seeds. Parts of the privet plant, including the leaves and berries, are toxic to humans if eaten and can result in vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure and abdominal distress.
Landscape quality privets (Ligustrum spp.) make excellent hedges because they are fast growing, easy to care for and may display fragrant, sweet smelling flowers. They can provide a lovely living fence to mark the borders of your property and offer a natural barrier against wind, snow, noise and nosy neighbors. The purpose of your hedge should be a determining factor in choosing the type of privet you plant. Different varieties thrive in different U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones. For example, Ibolium privet (Ligustrum x ibolium) grows in zones 4 to 8 while Japanese privet (Ligustrum japonicum) ranges from zone 7b to 10a.
Determine how much space you have available for your privet hedge. You'll need at least 5 feet of width to accommodate the spread of Japanese privet or California privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium, USDA zones 5 to 8), while glossy privet (Ligustrum lucidum, USDA zones 8 to 10) can spread up to 10 feet. Take height into consideration as well. Glossy privet can reach up to 40 feet tall, while Golden Vicary privet (Ligustrum x vicaryi, USDA zones 5 to 8) typically tops out at around 6 feet, although it has been know to reach up to 12 feet. Ibolium privet is one of the fastest growing deciduous hedges, adding up to 3 feet per year during its early years, but it slows once it reaches maturity, typically achieving a height of 8 to 12 feet.
Plot out your projected hedge before you start putting the privet plants in the ground. Drive a wooden stake into the ground at your hedge's terminal points and stretch a string between the stakes to create a straight line for reference.
Determine how much space you will need between each plant considering the particular privet's mature width. You'll need 9 to 12 inches between California privets to create an attractive, dense hedge, while Ibolium privets should be spaced at least 24 inches apart. Mark the location of each plant with a flag or string marker for easy reference.
Dig a trench the length of your string line. The depth of the trench will depend on the size of the root ball of the privet you are planting. Trenching is a good method for planting bare-root privets. If you are planting container plants, you can dig individual holes instead of a trench, making the hole several inches deeper and wider than the container holding the privet.
Add several inches of organic matter, compost or a variety-specific plant mix to the trench or hole. Spread the roots and insert the privet plants into the hole to the soil depth from the previous container or pot. Work the soil around the plants' roots and upward until surface level is reached.
Water the planting area after planting the privets, saturating the soil to the depth of the roots. Continue watering weekly for the first six weeks until the roots establish themselves in the planting site. Privets will not grow well in areas constantly saturated with moisture. Add a 3-inch layer of mulch to control grass and weeds and retain soil moisture.
- Clemson University Extension: Ligustrum
- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Ligustrum L. Privet
- University of Florida Extension: Ligustrum japonicum (Ligustrum)
- Fine Gardening: Ligustrum vulgare and cvs. (Common privet)
- Cornell University Department of Horticulture: Hardiness Zone Summary
- North Carolina State University Extension: Ligustrum japonicum, L. sinense, L. lucidum, L. vulgare
- Royal Horticultural Society: Hedges: Planting
- Arbor Day Foundation: How to Plant a Privacy Hedge
After attending Hardin Simmons University, Kay Dean finished her formal education with the Institute of Children's Literature. Since 1995, Dean has written for such publications as "PB&J," Disney’s "Family Fun," "ParentLife," "Living With Teenagers" and Thomas Nelson’s NY Times bestselling "Resolve." An avid gardener for 25 years, her experience includes organic food gardening, ornamental plants, shrubs and trees, with a special love for roses.