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A friend of mine who is working for a big gardening center helped me lately to cut my green waste for the compost and realized the branches were Privet. He claimed a Privet-Hedge would be a "living desert". No other species can grow there and most animals avoid it as it's a bad breeding round. It's flowers and berries are practically useless.

Is that true? Can someone confirm or recommend an improvement? (I don't want to cut down the whole hedge either)

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    Where in the world are you? Answers may depend on whether it's native, provides equivalent resources to a native species, or is completely alien (I know, for example, that some common birds will nest in it in the UK)
    – Chris H
    May 18, 2020 at 12:15
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    Deer love to eat the large privet -ligustrum. Bees also love the flowers. May 19, 2020 at 1:16
  • Both Crateagus (Weißdorn) and Prunus spinosa (Schwarzdorn, Schlehe) are native in Central Europe. The former will give you edible, red, mealy berries, the latter edible, blue, adstringent berries. As the names suggest, both are thorny. It is not true that Liguster is a green desert, but it is toxic e.g. for sheep or goat (but not for roe deer AFAIK). Weißdorn grows higher than Schwarzdorn, so it may not work for a low hedge. Jun 21, 2020 at 21:45

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Here in France Privet is not a desert. Bees are crazy about the flowers (late September). Local birds also eat the fruits.

But in your location, in Australia, it could be different.

A good idea could be to mix some other species in the hedge. You proposed Crataegus which is lovely, but could propagate a disease (fire blight) to fragile species like apricot, since you might be in a place where no native Crataegus grows.

Prunus spinosa could be a good proposition you received. I also like some eleagnus, for berries are small but edible, and leaves are persistent like for Privet.

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