Privet on parade: how to nudge unruly hedges gently back into shape | Alys Fowler

I can’t be too drastic with my four-metre privet, but some canny planting can fill the gaps nicely

I have inherited quite the privet hedge in my garden in Wales. It’s over four metres high and waving its arms all over the place. Several elders have snuck in to enjoy the party, so it sort of looms over the garden. My first thought was to reduce it in height and width – until my neighbour made it clear I wasn’t to touch the top. I stomped about muttering “mine” and “ridiculous”, but we won’t fall out over a hedge. I just need a new plan.

Many hedges that aren’t pruned properly end up with unsightly “legs”, which is what’s happened to mine. My neighbour loves it because he gets the top (his garden’s higher than mine); I don’t because I get the feet. The good thing about privet, Ligustrum, is that it regenerates well from old wood, but the bottom won’t thicken out until it gets more light and the vertical growth tips are pruned.

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