London (change)
19 messages
24/08/2013 at 11:52


We have a very large bay tree with multiple stems - photo below.

We intend on building a large shed in the vicinity and will need to cut this back. Also I think a tidy up would improve it as it is stragly the top growth does not look to healthy.

Any suggestions on technique/when to undertake this task  would be appreciated.


24/08/2013 at 12:19

Bay trees are a type of laurel and are quite robust enough to take a pruning. Just cut off what needs to be cut off, being careful to trim the branches neatly and leaving no snags to collect infection.

Then wander the streets asking people if they want t buy any bay leaves.

24/08/2013 at 13:01

I like the last idea wb, I've got one of these to deal with as well.


24/08/2013 at 13:35

Thanks waterbutts,

Is there a good time of year for such activity or are they happy what ever the weather?

24/08/2013 at 14:27

I would choose a dry day if you don't want to be showered with water. I wouldn't do it when it's frosty or snowy (not likely in August).

25/08/2013 at 09:31

Late spring's best for pruning a tree. If you're looking to remove a substantial amount, best to do it over a couple of seasons. They grow like weeds here and are just about impossible to destroy when very young. Later, though, with some size, they don't react well to heavy pruning in one hit.

25/08/2013 at 09:53

I can never find the right time for my bay, it's not been touched for years and is blocking the view from the landing window. Late spring is good for the bay but not for the birds, they think it's a block of flats. If I do it now there may be young regrowth that won't stand the winter. If I do it in winter I'm sure I'll upset it. So it's still growing.

25/08/2013 at 10:43

I suppose it all depends on when your shed is arriving.

25/08/2013 at 14:01

Italophile - WHAT IS YOUR PICTURE????  I keep looking at it, but really can't make it out!  I just hope it's nothing rude!

25/08/2013 at 14:12

DJ, it's my dear departed and much missed Old English Sheepdog, Dermott, eating. Here it is in full size:

He'd just had a haircut. Apart from his head.

25/08/2013 at 16:58

Shed should be going up late winter, however I have taken a rumage into the foliage - not an easy task due to rose bush and brambles-  however it appears to me that atground level there is one very large thick trunk (12"+) plus there are dozens of small branches/stems coming up from the ground. I could probably thin these out without any ill effect on the main plant & then tackle the rest over several years to bring back into a reasonable and healthy shape.

I too have to consider the birds or in this case a pair or robins, they don't tolerate any other occupants and have the whole tree to themselves.

Thanks for the tips.

25/08/2013 at 17:07

You could easily take out those overgrown suckers without any problems, Briggsy.

25/08/2013 at 17:18

That's what I thought. Up to a couple of meters the bulk of the foliage is from these. which should give us the clearance we need for the shed. The rose will just have to start again as it is growing through this to get to the main tree. Guess we can't have everything!

27/06/2014 at 13:02

How hard can I prune back my bay tree-it is more of an enormous bush than a tree but it has taken over a large part of my patio now completely blocking a raised bed that I cannot plant in at the moment-it is so healthy I love using the leaves for cooking etc but want to get it back into shape-am worried if I prune too hard I will lose it.  

27/06/2014 at 13:29


Cut it as hard as you like.  You won't lose it.

27/06/2014 at 17:57

I recently bought 3 lemon verbena plants which arrived by post.  I stood them in water overnight then potted them.  Now they look dry and sad..  Is there any hope for them?

27/06/2014 at 18:00

Hi Kate 

I think you should start a new thread with Lemon Verbena in the title, so that people who know the plant will see it and respond.

28/06/2014 at 00:09

In the meantime, Kate, I don't know how advanced your LVs are, but I have one in a pot that lives on the terrace. I cut it back heavily for winter and it overwinters with protection on the terrace where it gets mighty cold. Every year when I uncover it, it  looks like it's dead - very dry, very brown. Sure enough, it bounces back every year but it's always the last plant on the terrace to spring to life. They can be deceptive. Give yours a chance.

28/06/2014 at 08:59
Autumn would be best for cutting it back. Pruning in summer is more likely to result in rapid new growth in response to the pruning. Pruning to control size is best done in Autumn/winter so hopefully that fits in quite well with your timing : )
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