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My bay plant was planted a few years ago in the garden and is now about 10 feet high and growing all the time.

I think accepted wisdom is that it is pruned in late spring. Can anyone confirm this? Also, is it ok to just cut off the main stem about three feet from the top, it seems cruel to do this and if I do, maybe the tree will start getting wider instead of taller, which I do not want.

Also, if the tree were to get higher i.e. 15feet and higher is this the kind of plant that would affect the structure of a building as it approximately 2 metres from the house.



What sort of shape do you want the tree to be?

I had not thought of that. It's at the side of the shed which is at the front of the garden. It can get a bit wider but if it got too wide it would not leave enough space for people to go past it to get to the back of the garden.

So I suppose it could get a foot wider but I don't want it to get any taller than it is now. I am not an expert on how you can shape such a tree, but would just prefer that it looks natural.


Ha! Ha!  The headline said Giant Bay Tree.  It's only 10ft high.  They go up much, much higher than that.

Prune it down as much as you want, it will spring up again, but I might take the opportunity to move it further from the house, it really is too close unless you keep it strictly under control.  

I would not cut it off at 7ft high, it will look like a lollipop.  Not a good look!  Cut it nearly to the ground.


Could we have a photo of what it looks like now? If it only has branches at the top it will looks silly cut off as Welshonion says. If it has branches all the way down you can prune to the shape you want.



Mines about 18 foot high and 10 foot wide. got a spring appointment at the barbers!

Interesting mine has about 6 main stems (bit like a rhododendron) I will probably just cut 4 out and start a recovery program.


Mines a thicket, about 12 foot tall and nearly as much across. Overdue for the haircut. I expect the great tit to move in again before I get it done next spring.

Mine's in a large container and so seems content to remain a 4ft, healthy 'dwarf' bay!

I can recommend this way of growing them.



Me too Lancashire Lass - when we came here there was a feral bay - it had been in a pot and then planted in the garden - it was rampant - when we dug it out the roots were still balled but new roots had spread out like a spider from the centre.  

I've got the one I grew from a cutting in a big pot and that's where it's staying 

David Matthews2

I have two 'mature'bays which had reached 10' in height x 5' width - they were hazarding the elevated washing line (reducing capacity by 25%), so they had severe haircuts about 13 months ago: I left all the new regrowths alone this past spring so that I now have ample fresh material for festive bay/laurel wreaths (so much kinder to the hands than holly!). I'll post some before/after + wreath pix once they've been fabricated this week... 

David Matthews2


 Donor bay tree and resultant Christmas wreath: all foliage 'home-grown' at Trigfan.

Compliments of the Season to all "Forkers" , Very Best Wishes for 2014.

Hi, I would like to cut my bay trees down quite a lot but don't know how much to take off , they block the sun in the afternoon ( not that there's any this time of year) but managing them is getting a bit difficult. 

Kind regards


Depends what you mean by "quite a lot" ?  They are beautifully shaped but if you want to lose some height, you are just going to have to dive in and start cutting.

Decide on the height you want, trim off all the excess so that you can see the main branches and then prune accordingly.

Expect the trunk ( and branches where cut ) to sprout new growth - you can either leave these and use them to shape the trees or you can remove them and allow further sprouting in order to get the desired effect.


I have a large, fat culinary bay in this new garden and some new gardening friends who were here to see the "before" garden on Friday suggested I could topiarise it into a formal column or a cone or maybe cloud prune it.

Worth a go once I decide on a shape as there's no way I can just trim it by taking a few leaves when I'm making a casserole and it's definitely too big where it is and I have another so it doesn't matter if it doesn't like it.

Warren - I like the shape fo your trees but if they are too big for you I suggest you take a hedge trimmer to them and reduce them back in stages till you get the shape and size you want or you go back to thicker stems that need cutting with secateurs or loppers to get the size you want.   

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