The French, with their formal structured gardens love them, and American landscapers have use Privet for years as hedges, pruned neatly into rows, columns and other shaped items. The true Privet is ligustrum species, though here in Colorado, we also plant something called New Mexico Privet, which is not a true Privet, but Forestiera pubescens instead. Privet can be used without pruning, though its best usage is when neatly trimmed.
The true Privet, ligustrum species, is originally from Asia and has been used for centuries. The three most common varieties planted in Colorado are Lodense Privet, Cheyenne Privet, and Golden Vicary Privet. The Lodense Privet grows to about 3’ high and 4’ wide and will flower and produce a small black fruit if left unpruned. The flower is small and white in spring and early summer, and the fruits set in fall. Pruning removes all flowering. Cheyenne Privet grows larger than Lodense and will get to be 8’ high and 4-6’ wide which makes it an excellent choice for taller pruned hedges. The Golden Vicary Privet has a yellow and green leaf, almost looking variegated with new outer growth as yellow and older more shaded inner growth staying green. This variety grows 4-6’ high and 4’ wide. All the Privet require moderate water, so they are not truly xeric, however, once established, they can survive on minimal watering if needed.
The New Mexico Privet is different only in that it can grow more as a tree. It is known as Stretchberry. It is much more twiggy and produces a yellow flower and berries in the fall. It grows larger at 12’ high and can resemble a small tree. It can be pruned, but does not react as well to pruning as the ligustrum. As with any hedge, pruning can have its disadvantages. In Colorado with our harsh winters, whole sections of Privet can die out, leaving a hole in the hedge, so sometimes, replacement plantings are needed which take time to fill in. And, they need to be pruned two or three times a year.
Used in the right places, hedges can help define a landscaped path, property line, or border. They present a more formal and manicured landscape and is appropriate in some applications. Find a walkway or property border in your Boulder Colorado landscape and experiment with some of our better local varieties.
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