Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) can be grown as an attractive hedge or as a specimen plant. With a hedge, frequent pruning will allow light to reach lower and inside the limbs and create dense growth. Chinese privet is a fast grower and forgiving of most pruning techniques. If you are growing Chinese privet as a specimen or single plant, correct pruning helps the shrub retain a natural shape. Chinese privet can get large and woody if not kept in check by occasional pruning. The best time to prune Chinese privet is after the bloom period and 2 or 3 times per year thereafter. The plant thrives in USDA Zones 7 through 9.
Decide how you would like to prune the Chinese privet shrub. The shrub can retain a more natural shape, or it can be pruned to create a formal hedge or screen.
Prune the shrub so it retains a natural shape rather than a formal sheared appearance by pruning the longest unruly branches back to a main branch. Shorter limbs can be left to grow and can be trimmed out later. After each cut, step back and look at shrub and carefully choose the next limb to prune. Only trim out the longest limbs. If you cut too many, the shrub will have a sparse and unnatural look.
Make a formal hedge by shearing all undesired growth straight across the top. A string stretched between two stationary objects on each end of the line of shrubs can can be used as a cutting guide.
Shear the sides so that the bottom of the hedge is slightly wider than the top, bringing the sides up gradually to meet the top so sunlight can reach the lower portion. This will prevent woody or sparse growth on the lower half of the hedge. When cutting the sides, step back and look frequently at your progress.
Gently rake over hedge with a leaf rake to remove pruned leaves and branches from the shrub after pruning.