I have old privets, about 18' tall, that run the width of my yard (150 feet) and provide privacy from the homes behind us. Over the last several years, they have become progressively worse and worse with many many dead clusters throughout. I have unspecified vinery climbing which i try to get at the base, cut and kill, and remove from the hedges. I cut a small section out about 5 years ago and planted a couple new ones, that never really gained height. The entire thing is troubling to me, as they are far too significant in size for me to remove, nor do I want to if they can recover. Do I remove the dead bunches to encourage growth. Do I take height off of them. Shoud I be trimming the front surface of these so they are not hanging heavily from the upper branches. Do they need food, water, a clean ground beneath them? I realize this is a bunch of questions, but I am desperate to save these. ALSO, the temps are in the 90's now in August 2012, in New Jersey, so I imagine this is a fall/spring project? Thank you for all who have knowledge with this.