Answer: Prunus laurocerasus (English Laurel) is hardy in your growing region, most specifically 'Schipkaensis', 'Nana' and 'Otto Luyken'. All have the ability to become thick, dense screening plants. I suspect the laurels were planted and forgotten. These are tough plants, though, and given regular water and a spring feeding, they should make up for lost time in a year or two. Pruning the sides won't make the plants grow taller, just thicker and wider. For an overall increase in size, lightly trim them all the way around, including the top. When you remove the branch tips, the plant will develop many more branch tips so shearing all the way around (including the top) will result in new growth all over. You might also find that laurels tend to grow more in the spring and fall months but just bide their time in the summer. You can feed lightly now and you'll see new growth this fall. Feed lightly in the spring and you'll see lots of new growth later in the spring. Best wishes with your landscape!
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