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All the rain, and then the warm weather, and my laurel hedge has gone mad bushing out in all directions - never seen it so exuberant! Too early to trim back with a hedge trimmer? Dont really want to have to do it again before winter (large hedge).

Ouch! Who didn't warn you about Laurels?

You can trim any hedge as and when required so long as you don't want flowers and its not too early/late in the year because the new growth will get damaged. Mostly it works out at about once or twice a year, depending on plant and standards.

Hedge trimmers are mighty fine weaponry if you are looking for shabby-chic, unfortunately Laurel is one of those evergreens with big leaves that will tear and go brown and ugly if you cut indiscriminately. Most Laurel hedge owners prune by hand...but of course, this is a matter of taste/time!

Unfortunately, the hedge was there when I bought house, and now too much to remove and not lose all privacy. I did read that you should prune laurel by hand to avoid a massacred look, but my life isnt that long - it will have to be hedge trimmer, and I know from looking at it now, it does recover. Last time it was trimmed was in October 2010. In 2011 it hardly grew, except a few odd pretruding bits, but this year it has gone mad.

Hehe. Perfectly understandable sir!

I have two on-purpose Laurel in my garden because I love them for their glossy evergreen leaves, their support of wildlife big and small and the fact they make fast growing privacy and structure in a garden. I prune them to be standards or tree-shaped personally by cutting off the bottom foliage as I prefer that look, and have to hack the tops back about every two years, which I do in late summer, just so long as their are no birds nesting,  

yeah, i have several large laurels - i like them for the same reasons as wintersong. i clip mine into great big spheres. i use a hedge trimmer and then just snip out any brown bits with secateurs as and when they appear (and bug me enough to be bothered). i used to faff on doing it all by hand but find hedge trimmers encourage them to stay more dense. more cuts, so more bushy new growth i guess. i have to do them twice a year as a rule. only cos i'm anal tho.



i have planted laurels to form a wind break hedge.. i know they can go bit brown in the wind.. but they are lovely and the birds nest in them..

but i think today that they have vine weevil. have ordered the nematods to get rid.. as i grew them all myself from seedlings i have had to check or my spare ones that i have and will treat them too... so gutted.. it has taken 2 1/2 years of continous potting up and waiting to get to size good enough to put out.. and now this.. i wonder if they come from the bay trees they are planted next too.. either way gutted


Yeah, I always thought the nibbles in my smaller standard Laurel were due to leaf cutter bees until this year but its survived thus far, I think those lady weevils have spotted a better meal this year in my garden Phlox  which is taking a hammering.

I will be treating the Phlox very soon with nematodes although I generally leave established plants alone as I believe -rightly or wrongly- that they are big enough to survive the odd bit of root chewing. 

Interesting thread - my recently planted laurels have gone mad too which I am delighted about as they will hopefully provide me with a bit of privacy in the next few years if they keep growing at this rate!

Wintersong - can I ask how did you train as standards?  Do you continue to remove the branches lower down or wait until it has reached a certain size?  Mine are currently about 7 feet tall and bushing out madly but as I have a small garden am more interested in them gaining in height than in width.  Sorry for hijack btw OP I maybe should have started new thread!



@Abby2, Okay, I have two Laurels of different sizes, the first being shop brought mature shrub/tree of approx. 14ft high.

I left this one to grow for many years before hacking it back some and discovering that I rather liked its dark limbs, so its not a true standard, more my version of a tree. I prune off new shoots up to about five foot at which point it bushes out and is shaped rather like a large lolly-pop.

It works for me, I gain space underneath and I also like the dark branches that act as a good backdrop for planting in my borders.

The second is a seedling of the mature plant and more standard in that I decided from an early age to keep it to a single stem. Basically, most plants would be single stem except that they are pruned at the nursery to encourage bushy growth. This Laurel is about four foot high and I rub off the lower shoots as I see them and lolly-pop the head same as the other one  like a mini-me. The shoots are much easier to rub off the small one since the thickness of its limb is only about the same as an adult arm, the mature one is an elephant in comparison so its a proper job of loppers and the saw.

Excellent - thanks Wintersong that is really helpful.  A large lollypop shape would be perfect for my border and screening.  Hadn't thought about doing that with my laurels before

I am very interested in how to manage laurel, particularly as a hedge. I planted 12 laurels to form a hedge in an exposed area in late March. They were 5' tall and during the windy period most of the leaves were blown off! I do have buds from about 2' up but my headge just looks like upturned lollypops at the moment and I am wodering if I should trim the entire lot back to 3' high? I am also in Aberdeenshire - the Mearns area n an exposed farmhouse site. Any advice would be very welcome. Thank you.

hi iv just planted a laurel hedge for privacy,there about 4 ft tall can you tell me the best feed for them ,thanks


Hi Steve. If you've prepared the ground well before planting they shouldn't really need anything more just now. A lot depends on the conditions where you've planted them .You could give them a sprinkling of general fertiliser of your choice if you didn't do that at the time. Blood, fish and bone is my personal favourite, but use whatever you prefer. Just make sure they don't dry out if you're having hot weather but don't drown them either! A mulch after watering is beneficial to preserve moisture in hot dry weather. Bigger hedging plants often take longer to establish than smaller ones so you could cut them back a bit if they look like they're struggling at all. 

Deborah - I know this is probably too late for a reply but  yes - I'd cut them back a good bit if you haven't already done that. The weather conditions, the site and the time of year you planted would have made it difficult for them to establish well. As I said to Steve- bigger plants take longer to establish anyway. Cutting them back will encourage more growth lower down. 

I have a Laurel hedge planted last year, they are on average about 4ft tall now. They are sarting to look a little wispy, when should I do my first prune and how much so that I can get a strong dense hedge? I am new to hedging so know very little about their upkeep but I am learning fast. 

Laurel is a pretty tough plant, would not be too concerned with giving it a trim now. With all hedging if you leave for too long before trimming it will take a few trims to get it back into shape and good health. Not really my specialist subject, but I have, to my sins, cut back laurel in late november before...


i have a large laurel which has been trimmed into a large lollipop shape over the years it is a multi stemmed planed but it seams to be overtaking the boarder, I want to reduce it and still retain the lollipop shape can I do this? Will new growth grow from stems that have been heavily pruned? If not then I may have to resort to exposing more of the bare wood at the base to allow other plans to have a chance.

You will get some new growth from pruned stems but you should be able to keep on top of it. I 'lifted up the skirt' of a laurel last year so that I could underplant. It is now shooting from the cut stems at ground level, but it will be easy enough to cut the new shoots back again. Just keep pruning yours to shape whenever it's needed - they are very resilient plants and no amount of pruning would kill them.

I have a laurel hedge, planted approx.5 years ago. It has grown well with nice dark green shiny leaves and I keep it trimmed at about 5 ft. This year the leaves are yellowish and brown edges and keep falling off. The hedge looks poor and sparse.  I have fertilised it a number of times with a general balanced fertiliser, also a liquid ericaceous feed and a soluble iron feed.  It has not responded and at present looks pretty sad! Am I doing something wrong?  Can anyone help

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