The Q&A Archives: Pruning Laurel

Question: About two years ago we planted 3 yr. old English Laurel as a hedge. They were planted about 5' apart and we planted 40 of them. They are now a variety of sizes. I assume that they are different sizes perhaps due to lighting conditions. The smaller ones seem to be under the trees (large pines and cedars). They all get the same amount of water. They vary in height between 6' and 12' and are starting to grow in to each other. We have never pruned them. We desire a thick (dense)hedge.

Should we prune the tall laurels and leave the smaller ones alone? When should pruning be done? In general, what is the philosophy of pruning english laurel?

Thank you,


Answer: English laurels are relatively easy-care shrubs. They respond well to pruning, and since you've planted them as a hedge, you'll want to prune periodically to keep them looking uniform. Pruning stimulates new growth so you'll want to prune during the spring and summer months when the shrubs are actively growing. If you prune too late in the summer, or during the fall and winter months, warmish weather can prompt new growth which will be susceptible to dieback as temperatures get colder. As a general guideline, try not to remove more than one-third of the live material in any pruning session. Since some of your shrubs are twice as tall as others, you may need to plan on adjusting their sizes over a 2-3 year period. Once they begin to look similar in size, light pruning each spring should keep them all in shape.

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