The Privet Hedge

Sentinel Shrub

Photo by Nancy Andrews

The formal hedge says “privacy, please” in a manner far more civilized than a stockade fence. A fixture of the suburban landscape 50 years ago, fast-growing privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium and L. amurense) remains a fine choice where conditions are right: To thrive, this deciduous shrub requires a temperate climate and a homeowner willing to wield sharp shears as often as needed.

Getting Started

Photo by Nancy Andrews

To plant a new privet hedge, create a trench two feet wide and two feet deep, space individual shrubs about 12 inches apart, and bring soil up to the branching trunk. Water deeply and frequently the first year, using drip irrigation.

Green Wall

Photo by Nancy Andrews

Planted close and grown tall, privet quickly forms a lush, living wall.

Layer It

Photo by Nancy Andrews

Achieve a thicker hedge by planting two rows of shrubs, zig-zag fashion, in a double-wide trench. This mulitiered privet hedge serves as a theatrical backdrop for an informal border of mophead and lacecap hydrangeas.

Nice and Neat

Photo by Nancy Andrews

Neatness counts: A tall privet hedge softens the look of a concrete path, but will quickly encroach upon it if permitted to become overgrown. Privet needs to be sheared anywhere from twice to four times a season. To prevent the plant from becoming invasive, be sure to remove its white flowers before they go to seed.

Tapered at the Top

Photo by Nancy Andrews

Maintenance is a routine matter: For every fresh foot of growth, shear off six inches or so. If that sounds like sheer torture to you, opt for a low-maintenance fence. To maintain density, shape the hedge narrower at the top and fatter at the bottom; this allows sunlight to reach lower leaves and keeps the plants healthier.

Garden Gate

Photo by Nancy Andrews

Make a grand entrance by training plants to meet over the front walk.

Partnering Plants

Photo by Nancy Andrews

In this pleached arch, two plants meet at the top to accentuate a path.

Shrub Love

Photo by Nancy Andrews

Topiary lovebirds kiss to form a natural arch above a convex gate.

Come Hither

Photo by Nancy Andrews

Trained over a metal arch, privet entices visitors to peek beyond the garden gate.

Hedge with a View

Photo by Nancy Andrews

A natural arch frames a tranquil view.

Privet Hedge – Ligustrum ovalifolium

Privet hedging is a fast growing and a semi evergreen hedge plant. The bright green, lush leaves of Privet provide perfect screening for garden boundaries. In July, a flush of creamy white flowers are produced. During hard winters, and transplanting from bareroot a Privet hedge may shed its leaves. During the spring a fresh set of leaves will reappear.

Plant Spacing:
Bare Root – Best planted in a double staggered row
40cm – 60cm 6 plants per metre. 60cm – 90cm 5 plants per metre. 90cm – 120cm 5 plants per metre

Pot Grown / Root Balled – Best planted in a single row.
60cm – 80cm 4 plants per metre. 80cm – 100cm 3 plants per metre.
100cm – 125cm 2.5 plants per metre. 125cm – 150cm 2.5 plants per metre.
150cm – 175cm 2 plants per metre. 175cm – 200cm 2 plants per metre.

Download our Privet Hedge Planting Guide

Key Facts Likes all types of soil Likes sun or shade White flowers Evergreen Fruit for birds Good nesting for birds Full hardy Annual growth 25cm to 35cm Final height 3.0m Final spread 1.5m

Frequently bought together

To give your hedging plants the best start we recommend these accessories. Make sure you also check our helpful hedge planting guides.

10 Reasons to choose Hornbeam hedging

Hornbeam is a native species favoured for its attractive foliage and ability to withstand an abundance of hindering planting sites. Also known by its Latin name Carpinus betulus, this popular hedging plant is often mistaken for Beech (fagus sylvatica) as they have a similar appearance but can be distinguished by its leaves which have deeper veins. We’ve compiled a list of ten reasons to choose this fantastic hedge plant.

  1. It’s benefits and multitude of uses have been acknowledged by the Royal Horticultural Society and has been awarded their esteemed Award of Garden Merit.
  2. Hornbeam offers seasonal interest as its glossy green foliage turns a coppery colour in autumn.
  3. Its ideal for heights up to 5m and therefore makes the perfect privacy screen which reduces noise and wind from entering your garden.
  4. It makes a wonderful, single species hedge but it is frequently combined with other species as a member of a mixed native feature.
  5. You can trim this species into a variety of shapes or kept tidy for a formal aesthetic. Alternatively, you can leave this plant to grow into a bushy form for a more naturalistic look. It look fantastic either way.
  6. Although it’s deciduous, its rusted leaves hold onto its branches throughout winter giving some year-round cover.
  7. Being native, Hornbeam is wildlife friendly. Its dense and thick foliage makes a perfect nesting site and as it holds its leaves throughout winter, it provides a safe and secure habitat for garden wildlife during the cold season.
  8. It produces long catkins in late spring which turn into small fruits feeding heaps of British birds.
  9. Available in every root type, you can purchase Hornbeam as cell grown, pot grown, bare roots, root balls and instant hedges.
  10. Hornbeam is particularly suitable for clay/wet soils and will thrive in fully shaded areas. It can withstand windy sites however Carpinus Betulus is not suitable for coastal position.

Facts you may not know about Hornbeam:

The name Hornbeam comes from the hardness of its timber – ‘horn’ means ‘hard’ and ‘beam’ was the name for a tree in old English.

View our Best4hedging YouTube channel to find more species specific videos as well as helpful how-to guides and planting advice.

I got behind on my weekly reports of what I’ve been planting, but I think that’s how it works this time of year. It’s a gardening flurry and I’m in that part of the spring marathon where it’s plodding along and longing for gardening days when you putter in the garden rather than do an impersonation of the Tasmanian devil.

So that’s why I missed last week and now that it’s a week ago, I’ve forgotten half of what I’ve planted. But I’ve not forgotten the main thing I planted. And I want to stress the “I” part of that, because it really was a one-gardener show. I planted six 9-foot (or so) tall hornbeams—Carpinus betulus ‘Lucas’ to be exact—along the east side of our property.

This is what the area looked like five years ago, before we planted anything other than the three viburnums, which you can barely see in this photo.

The three ‘Mohican’ viburnums were planted as screening at the back of the bed by the garage.

You may recall that this is where I took out the Viburnums earlier this year and found evidence of what I had suspected: verticillium wilt. Hornbeams are on the list of plants that are not suseptable to verticillium wilt, so I felt safe planting them without any treatment of the soil.

The goal on this side of the property is not to close out our neighbors, who are quite fabulous (and I’m totally not saying that on the off chance that they are reading this). It’s really more about a sense of enclosure. Gardens without an end don’t let you focus your eyes on the garden. The hope for these hornbeams is that they grow together to create a hedge. I may need to do some pleaching (essentially tying branches together so that they grow to intertwine) to accomplish this, but I’m not sure. At some point we will prune the tops to be level, but I don’t know at what height that will be. I may also prune from the bottom to do a hedge-on-stilts type of thing. I may even cut a “window” in that hedge someday to offer a peek at Lake Michigan beyond the neighbors. All of these things are options and none needs to be decided on right now.

Six hornbeams were planted along the east edge of the property

Although hornbeams are deciduous, these trees should hold their rusty orange leaves well into winter, which I think will be striking in the otherwise drab winter landscape.

The process of planting them by myself was not fun, but I needed to get this checked off the list and Mr. Much More Patient wasn’t around. Thankfully the soil is sandy loam in this area (we have varying types of soil around our property depending on what is native and what was brought by previous owners) and I was able to dig the holes fairly easily. The root balls were also not that big, so once I had Mr. MMP help me set the trees near the holes, I could muscle them in the rest of the way by myself. Checking to make sure they were straight, properly spaced and in line with one another was the time-consuming part.

Looking the other direction, you can see the line of trees that I hope will someday form a hedge. I planted them 5 feet apart on center. The straw bed you see behind them is the mushroom bed, which will appreciate a bit more shade than it has been getting lately.

A note on how I planted these. I sort of half followed the same procedure I used last year to plant the Asian pear. I addition to wanting to make sure I found the root flare (well buried on most of them), I wanted to get some of the heavy clay off the rootballs, as that is not at all what they will spend the rest of their lives in. I did not, however, fully root wash them like I did with the pear. In one case I found a terrible girdling root, that surely would have killed that tree at some point had I not got in there and cut it. It’s still far from optimal though, but there’s no way to know what’s lurking in a balled and burlapped tree or shrub until you own it.

As with most unexpected garden deaths, the loss of the viburnums may well turn out to be a blessing.

Native Farm Hedging

Our Native Farm Hedging Mix contains a mixture of 60% hawthorn and at least 5 other native species to create a traditional farm hedge. The other 5 variable species are usually made up of Blackthorn, Field maple, Dogwood, Crab apple, Guelder Rose, Dog Rose, and Hazel. Bare root plants are available from November to April.

Our Native Farm Hedging is approved for the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Our Native Farm Hedging mix is a great choice for paddocks, fields and gardens. None of the plants are poisonous to livestock, and they provide a diverse habitat that encourages wildlife who feast on the fruits, seeds and berries the hedge provides. It also creates a natural corridor for the movement of wildlife, and RSBP says that these hedges provide support for up to 80% of our woodland birds.

Our native hedging mix plants contain a mix of species that provide year round seasonal interest. Native Farm Hedging provides a substitute for lost woodland edge habitat. Most Native farm Hedging you see is ancient, as far back as mediaeval times, and over time, these hedges provided enclosures and the foundation of our countryside you see today. Native farm Hedging today is common in garden, industrial sites and office buildings.

Native Farm Hedging is supplied at the rate of 5 plants per metre and is planted in a double staggered row. Distance between rows of about 50cms. The Farm Hedging will then provide a good thick hedge giving protection to stock and food and shelter for wildlife throughout the year.

Native farm Hedging is suitable for all types of soil, once planted in, water well, and weed until established. Rabbit guards can be applied but keep weed free and discard after two years, they are not biodegradable. Bamboo canes provide support for the young plants. Trim once a year, but not from April to August, which disturbs nesting birds. Reduce the height of the hedge by 50% on day of planting, then again another 50% the following winter, this will make the plants bushier , thereafter trim the side and the top which encourages growth of new buds. Native farm Hedging should grow to a height of 2m in around 3 years.

For Sales and Advice, or further details on our range of native farm hedging plants please call us on 01798 831008, or Email Us at [email protected]


Hawthorn – Crataegus, meaning strength from the Greek word Kratos, and akis meaning sharp, is a small, deciduous fast growing unfussy plant and will grow in all soil types. Hawthorn has edible flowers, fruits and leaves when young, which when developed knits into a dense, wiry hedge that is thorny enough to be an effective barrier without being difficult to trim. Hawthorn is a great plant that is of huge benefit to wildlife, supporting diverse wildlife, insects, birds, voles and mice.

In Spring is produces swathes of frothy white scented flowers, which develop into clusters of red haws or berries in winter. It is a great intruder deterrent, and also a useful windbreak, whilst providing shelter for wildlife.

Hawthorn is a valuable addition to a native farm hedgerow. Mixed native farm hedges are excellent for attracting birds and other wildlife. Hawthorn is usually mechanically trimmed, but Hawthorn and other Native hedging can be laid. Allow the Hawthorn to grow for several years, partially cut and bend to the ground where they will re shoot and thicken up. Hawthorn is tough and can withstand extreme cold.

Plant at a rate of five plants per metre and Hawthorn will create a dense prickly hedge. It is ideal for hedges 1m – 5m high, and grows quickly at a rate of 40cm – 60 cm per year.

For Sales and Advice, or further details on our Hawthorn Hedging Plants please call us on 01798 831008, or Email Us at [email protected]

Privet Hedging

There are few different ways you can buy our Privet Hedging at Hyland’s Nursery

Pots or containers:

Privet Hedging in pots can be planted all year round and can be any size, from a plant in a 9cm pot to a plant in a very large tub. Their root is settled into the pot and the plant has been actively growing in the pot thus it is well established. A plant in a pot can be sown all year round. As it is established in the pot, there is little disturbance to the plant when planted into the ground so it is more likely to grow. It is seldom that a plant in a pot fails unless the watering conditions haven’t been correct. It will need to be watered in well when initially planted. If planted during a hot time or in the summer, it may need to be watered a few times a week until they get established in the ground.

Root balled:

Root balled plants are larger plants that come in a root wrap of hessian. You leave this hessian on when planting. You only plant these plants when the plant is dormant or has stopped growing for the winter. They are planted from October/November to April/May depending on what the season is like i.e. if the spring is early or not, or if the autumn is very dry.

Bare rooted:

There are plants that have no soil on their roots. They are usually small, single-stemmed plants. It is important when you get these plants that you keep the roots moist and don’t let the roots dry out. You should keep them in the bag or heal the roots into sand or soil until you are ready to plant them. You should try to have the ground ready before you get them, and plant them as soon as you get them so they have a good chance of success. They should be planted between November and March but the earlier in the winter the better as it gives the roots a chance to settle in before the growth starts.

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