The Privet Hedge
This iconic living fence functions as a glossy green property marker, windscreen, and noise barrier
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.
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.
Planted close and grown tall, privet quickly forms a lush, living wall.
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.
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.
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.
Make a grand entrance by training plants to meet over the front walk.
In this pleached arch, two plants meet at the top to accentuate a path.
Topiary lovebirds kiss to form a natural arch above a convex gate.
Trained over a metal arch, privet entices visitors to peek beyond the garden gate.
A natural arch frames a tranquil view.