How much should a newly planted privet hedge be cut back?

Holly Robinson
last month

I just planted a hedge of California privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) along the fence around our pool. The individual plants are about 5-6 feet tall and we planted them about 18 inches apart. I've seen a fair share of scraggly privet hedges -- something I want to avoid. I'd like to do whatever I can to grow a healthy, dense hedge. I've found a lot of basic information on year-to-year care, but not about how much the first cut back should be after planting a new hedge. The most extreme information I've heard was from a Cornell Cooperative Extension representative who said I should cut the newly planted 5-6 feet tall bushes back to 6-12 inches in height(!), that this is the only way to promote thick growth from the bottom up, and that there's no going back if I don't do this now. Any privet experts out there who can opine on this?? How much should I cut back the newly planted hedge? I'd love to become a bit of an expert on California privet so that I can grow a handsome, dense hedge. Any helpful tips and/or referrals to books or other resources will be much appreciated!!

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