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I have a problem with this hedge and can't seem to find a cause for the browning. There are two links to two pictures. Any help appreciated. Thanks. Kev
There could be a number of reasons why this is happening, including waterlogging or drought. How old is the hedge? Another factor could be honey fungus (thought it's difficult to diagnose). Have you noticed any orange toadstools around the area, or flattened strands of fungi resembling black boot laces? If so, you will need to remove the hedge and replace it with a different species of hedge.
I think that the damage to your hedge is caused by exposure to a bitterly cold wind, although privet is extremely hardy, if you recollect last winter was particularly severe which did damage to many plants which in previous years had survived. If you cut the damaged part to about 12 inches from the base new growth may appear in the spring. Hedges do need care and attention by mulching with compost, grass cuttings are ideal and a regular liquid feed,the ideai width for a privet hedge is 12 to 18 inches, and the ideal height is 4 to 5 feet. I hope this is some help to you.
It could simply be that the plants are short of water. Privet is a very thirsty and hungry plant, and needs regular watering in dry periods otherwise it becomes stressed.
However, there could be a more serious problem. The symptoms you describe are very characteristic of honey fungus - a fungal disease which kills woody plants - especially those that are otherwise under stress.
Sadly, the only option is to grub up the plants and burn them. To check whether it is honey fungus you should look in the soil for the black 'boot laces' or rhizomorphs with which the disease spreads. A white fungal sheath also appears below the bark of affected plants.
If it is honey fungus and you wish to replace the hedge, then try using beech, box, laurel, hawthorn or yew which show some degree of resistance. The soil should be kept clear for a year and any rhizomorphs removed before replanting.