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How to Shape an Overgrown Privet Hedge

By Kathryn Hatter ; Updated September 21, 2017

For optimal growth and appearance, prune privet hedges twice a year. This keeps the hedge at the shape and height you desire for privacy and aesthetics. If you have allowed a privet hedge to grow without restraint, it will quickly become overgrown and unsightly. Rejuvenating an overgrown privet hedge requires drastic pruning to bring the hedge back into shape.

Select a pruning method; cutting the overgrown privet hedge back to the ground or pruning less drastically and removing only one-third of the privet hedge at one time.

Use the lopper pruners to begin removing the overgrown branches in the spring. If you are pruning the privet hedge back to the soil level, cut all of the branches off to within 8 to 10 inches of the soil level. For a less-drastic pruning, cut one-third of the branches back to this level (leaving two-thirds standing). Rake away the branches and leaves are on the ground.

Examine the privet hedge as you are cutting it back. If you discover any diseased or damaged hedges, dig them out and discard them. Replace these diseased hedges with new privet hedges.

Allow the privet hedge to regrow throughout the first season, shaping the new growth lightly in the autumn of that year to train it into the desired shape.

Cut back another third of the branches the following spring if you chose to prune less drastically following the same method described in Step two. If you cut the entire privet hedge to the ground, shape the new growth with the pruning shears in the spring.

Shape the privet hedge again in the autumn to keep the privet hedge growing in the shape you desire.

Cut back the last third of the branches the following spring to finish the less-drastic pruning method. If you are rejuvenating a privet hedge you cut to the ground, shape the new growth lightly with the pruning shears.

Continue to shape the privet hedge every spring and every autumn to keep it growing in the shape you desire and keep it at the height you desire. It will take approximately five years of growth to completely rejuvenate a privet hedge into a more restrained shape and size.


Things You Will Need

  • Lopper pruners
  • Hand pruning shears
  • Rake

About the Author


Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.