Posted: 21/06/2014 at 12:48
Hi samalamb. Did you prepare the ground thoroughly before you put the hedge in? That always pays dividends. Small plants can take a while to establish, so if they're only 12/18" for instance, they won't grow loads in their first year as they'll be trying to get a decent root system. Privet isn't evergreen so it also may look a bit bare after the winter but should leaf up well once the weather warms up and it gets going again. If there's a lot of weed growth round about it's important to get rid of it as it will compete especially if your hedging plants are small. On the basis that there's no other major issues with the site, I'd add some good compost and slow release fertiliser round the plants, water and mulch.
A hedge needs as much attention initially as any other plant - clear the area thoroughly of weeds, and turf if there's any, then plenty of well rotted manure/compost/ good soil put in. Put each plant in with some slow release fertiliser - Fish, blood and bone is ideal, then water well and add a mulch of bark or more compost. Keep well watered and weed free until the plants establish. You can't go far wrong if you do that, unless the site is unsuitable. A wild, cold, windy site needs extra protection in place to protect young plants in their first year or two.
Hope that's of some help