What are the Environmental Benefits of Privet Hedging?

Privet hedging is very popular in the UK owing to its resilience and versatility. But Privet hedging offers a number of other benefits in the garden besides just screening. Ecosystem services are the direct and indirect services provided to humans by ecosystems. This can include flood mitigation, recreation and health care, and air quality improvements. Our gardens can have a positive impact on the environment around us when they are managed in such a way that they contribute to the wider ecosystems. 

What is Privet Hedging?

Privet hedging is a dense, fast-growing hedge made from Privet. Privets are members of the lilac family and produce clusters of frothy white flowers. They are usually grown, however, for their thick and vigorous growing habit, making them excellent for creating boundaries and screening and are a popular choice with gardeners. It is easy to maintain and can be shaped to look neat and formal or looser and more natural. It’s a vigorous grower that will tolerate most soil types and growing conditions. 

Is Privet Evergreen?

There are over 50 varieties of Privet, and some are evergreen, but most are semi-evergreen here in the UK. This means that some leaves might drop in low temperatures, but they are mainly evergreen. If you are looking specifically for an evergreen Privet hedge, one of the most robust and reliably evergreen species is Common Privet, making it a very popular choice here at Hedges Direct. Don’t confuse semi-evergreen with hardiness. Privet is extremely hardy and will cope with most temperatures, coming back strongly again in spring, even if the winter is harsh. 

If you live in a particularly cold area and want a more evergreen hedge, there are plenty of other options available.

What are the Different Types of Privets?

There are many varieties of Privet, ranging from the wild Privet with its slightly looser habit to the golden privet, which, as the name suggests, has beautiful gold variegation on the leaves. Common privet is the most widely used variety and has a very dense form, lush green vegetation and great tolerance to the cold. 

Whether you want to plant a whole hedgerow or just fill a space in an existing hedge, you are sure to find a Privet that will do the job.  

What are the Environmental Benefits of Privet?

  1. It’s wildlife friendly

Privet hedging naturally provides many benefits to the garden, its wildlife, and its human occupants. It is excellent for screening and a reliable, strong grower that requires little in the way of maintenance. When it comes to environmental benefits, hedges are far more beneficial than other types of garden boundary or screening. These benefits are also known as ecosystem services; in other words, the services that plants and ecosystems quietly provide for us other than just looking nice or filling a gap in our garden!

With its thick, bushy growth, Privet provides excellent shelter for a wide range of creatures, including birds, small mammals and insects. Privet usually flowers in June and July, producing small white flowers with a unique scent. These are then followed by small black berries. The flowers provide a welcome nectar source for pollinators in our gardens, and the berries are a food source for small mammals and birds. 

Many creatures such as hedgehogs, voles and birds rely on hedges in urban environments where their habitat is scarcer. Privet hedges can provide shelter, nesting sites, food, and wildlife corridors for animals moving through the garden and through urban spaces. By choosing to plant a Privet hedge, you are offering wildlife a place of refuge and adding biodiversity to your garden. 

If you want to encourage more wildlife into your garden, try pruning your privet hedge a little less, allowing some space for birds and insects to enter and leave. Wild privet is a native species in the UK chalk downs and prefers well-draining, chalky soils. If the conditions in your garden are right, growing wild privet is excellent for wildlife as many species will have an already-established relationship with the plant. 

  1. It can reduce noise pollution

Noise pollution is a very unwelcome side effect of living in urban areas, housing estates or near any travel network. Many of us use our gardens to get some peace and quiet and take some time to relax. Being able to hear noisy neighbours, a busy road or a train line can detract from the relaxing environment. Privet hedges are particularly good at filtering noise and creating a more tranquil and calming atmosphere in our gardens. Some privets have a thicker growth habit than others. If you want a dense hedge to filter out noise, consider planting Common Privet.

By allowing a hedge to grow more naturally, instead of keeping it closely pruned and more formal looking, you can also create noise using a hedge. A gentle rustling sound made by hedges during a breeze can also act to filter out unwanted sounds and replace them with natural background noise. This has a relaxing effect on our mind and has even been shown to lower our heart-rate

  1. It reduces air pollution

Hedges have been shown to have a positive effect on air quality when used as a barrier between us and pollution sources such as roads. We can use this effect to our benefit when planting hedges in our garden. The thicker the hedge, the more effective it will be in your garden. Privet has a very thick growing habit with densely packed leaves ideal for providing a pollution barrier. Growing quite tall when allowed, it also offers additional screening in particularly polluted areas. 

The effects of plants on air pollution, and in particular their ability to draw down carbon from the atmosphere, is well-documented. Plants also have a symbiotic relationship with soil that helps them store carbon in the soil as well as in their leaves and branches. Some plants can emit volatile organic compounds, which do not combine well with pollution in urban settings. However, privet is excellent at cleaning air and filtering local pollutants, helping them to not reach your garden. 

  1. It thrives in urban settings

Some urban environments can present a unique growing challenge for plants. Privet does very well in urban settings because it tolerates a wide range of conditions including compacted soil, pollution and limited space. It is also very resilient to pests and disease damage and establishes itself quickly. It’s a very reliable plant, so a lot of areas that are not due to be regularly maintained opt to use Privet. Adding a huge splash of green to an area, with very little input from the gardener is part of why Privet is so popular. 

  1. It can mitigate flooding

Hedges, including privet hedging, are an elegant solution to help with the problem of flooding in urban areas. As more gardens are including hard landscaping features such as patios and artificial grass, there are fewer permeable surfaces in our towns and cities. This can create huge problems when there is a severe rainfall event. 

With its dense foliage, privet shelters the soil, slowing rainfall down and protecting the soil beneath it from erosion. Plants, including hedging and privet, also help to absorb excess moisture from the soil, which slows surface run-off and helps to mitigate against floods. Privet is a sturdy plant that will grow in most soils and help to increase soil permeability to rainwater. 

Find out how you can plant a rain garden to help manage flooding here.

  1. It can provide shade and insulation

Hedges are an attractive and natural way to add shelter and shade to your garden. Privet is a particularly efficient windbreak. As a sturdy plant with dense foliage, it helps to create sheltered spots in your garden, ideal for protecting more delicate plants from the effects of wind. This can help to insulate your garden, creating a microclimate that is warmer and more comfortable for you and your plants. Additionally, hedges provide excellent shade, offering a natural solution to help cool your garden during hot spells. 

When is the Best Time to Plant a Privet Hedge?

The best time to plant Privet hedging is typically in late autumn or early spring, whilst the weather is cool and the ground is not frozen or waterlogged. Late Autumn – October and November) is usually considered the best time because the soil is still warm. This helps with root growth. 

Planting privet in spring is also a good time as growing conditions are usually good, but you may need to water the plants during dry spells to ensure they establish properly. We often find that it’s best to plant Privet hedges when conditions are at their most mild – not too hot, cold, wet or dry. Once the plants are established, they are very hardy and will tolerate most conditions. 

Privet hedging is a great way to create privacy and add environmental value to your garden. Order yours now or discover our collection of Privet hedge plants at Hedges Direct.