Laurel is one of the most popular varieties of hedge plants. It has vibrant and glossy large leaves that provide excellent screening, and its quick growth rates means that you can create a compact hedge quickly.
These plants are easy to grow, easy to maintain, highly tolerant and have wildlife interest. Known for being a hardy hedging plant, laurel thrives in most conditions and takes hard pruning and shaping well.
One of the main advantages of growing a laurel hedge is that it requires very little care and will maintain their evergreen color throughout the year. There are three species of Laurel and they all make wonderful hedges. They include:
Prunus Laurocerasus Rotundifolia: This variety has a bushy growth habit, boasting large, attractive polished green leaves throughout the year. In spring, the plant produces creamy-white flowers that attract bees, followed by small, red fruits that turn black in autumn and are fed on by birds. It provides a constantly changing seasonal interest, making a beautiful decorative addition to any garden
Prunus Laurocerasus Novita: This is a relatively new, improved variety of Laurel, known for being hardier than common laurel. This fast-growing evergreen hedge plant has glossy green leaves and produces white fragrant flowers in spring followed by small black berries that are not edible. It also requires very little care.
Prunus Laurocerasus Caucasica: A fast-growing evergreen shrub, Prunus Laurocerasus Caucasica is similar to Cherry laurel but has a more distinct upright habit. This is the perfect hedge plant for any gardener who loves the reliability of cherry laurel but has either little space or wants to grow a narrower hedge. The plant is also tough and grows easily in free-draining soil. It’s however not suitable for coastal regions.
Growing a laurel hedge
Growing a laurel hedge is easy, and provided the planting conditions are favorable, you will have a compact hedge in no time.
What is a laurel?
Laurel is a popular evergreen hedge plant because it is tolerant to most types of soils. Its quick growth rate and vibrant green leaves make it a great choice for creating a relatively quick hedge. Known for being evergreen, Laurel provides all year round privacy and winter protection for birds and small mammals.
Why you should grow a laurel hedge
Laurel has amazing features, no wonder its one of the most popular hedge plants particularly in the U.K. Here are the advantages of growing a laurel hedge:
- Laurel hedge create a classic looking hedge and with evergreen foliage and fast-growth rate, it provides quick, lasting screening and privacy to any garden
- It is also adaptable and highly tolerant to both full sun and partial shade. It will also grow in all, but not chalky and waterlogged soils
- It is not only tolerant to a range of planting locations, but it can also withstand extremely cold temperatures, thus making it a hardy variety ideal for British winters
- It has polished, bright-green leaves that create a magnificent aesthetic feature and reflects sunshine away from your garden
- The Rotundifolia grows into a dense, bushy hedge; however, you don’t have to worry about an overgrowth because this variety requires little care. It only needs to be pruned twice a year. You can easily maintain a neat heat at 1.5-2m
- Laurel can reach a height of 5m at maturity, which makes it ideal for growing along boundaries as a dividing element
- There are many uses of laurel and it can be grown as a feature hedge for privacy, ornamental value or as a windbreak
- The plant produces creamy-white racemes in spring that have a delicate sweet fragrance and attracts bees. Berries that are produced in autumn change color from red to black and are fed on by birds.
- Reduces noise pollution, which makes it ideal for gardens located near busy roads
When to plant laurel
The best time for planting your laurel hedge is in fall. The plant prefers full sun or partial shade as a hedge, privacy screen or as a backdrop to other plants.
It grows in any reasonable soil that’s not waterlogged. It’s also excellent on clay. The plant can tolerate pollution and dry sites, making it suitable for areas such as poor parts of your landscape with very light soil.
How to plant
As mentioned above, growing laurel is straightforward; however, it is important that you plant correctly because this has an impact on how quickly the hedge establishes and grows. Follow these simple steps for planting laurel:
- Prepare the planting area by removing grass and other weeds.
- Dig a trench twice the width and same height as the clod
- Break the soil at the bottom of the trench and mix in some well-rotten compost manure. This will allow the roots to penetrate and establish quickly while utilizing the nutrients provided by the manure
- Mix a small port of the soil from the trench with manure
- Place the clod in the trench, ensuring that the plant stands straight and the top of the clod is at the same level as the ground surface
- Fill back the trench with the mixture of soil and manure, firming with your feet as you go
- Water the soil to settle around the roots of the plant
- Apply a layer of mulch around the plant, but ensure that it’s at least a few centimeters from the trunk of the plant
- Water the plants deeply and keep them well-waters throughout the first growing season
Don’t plant laurel in waterlogged soil
Plant the laurel in soils mixed with manure
Water the plant deeply during the first growing season especially when planting was done during dry summer months
As you probably know already, spacing is very important in hedging. You have to space laurel plants well to create a compact hedge. Generally, the spacing distance for laurel plants is two to three plants per meter.
Care & Advice
The different species of laurel have different growth rates, with cherry laurel growing up to 60cm a year and Portuguese laurel up to 40cm. Since laurel is known to be a fast-growing hedging plant, without pruning, they can easily grow into a large formal tree. But a formal hedge can be achieved by pruning twice a year to maintain a neat shape.
Caring for a laurel hedge only requires a small amount of effort from your end as you only need to trim it twice a year. It is recommended to prune laurel either in late spring or early summer. When you prune at this time, new shoots will grow and cover any leaves that have been damaged or gaps in the hedge. In addition, laurel can withstand hard pruning.
For small hedges, use a Secateurs for pruning, and for large hedges, you will want to use a hedgetrimmer. Since birds use laurels as their nesting site, it is always important to check for nests when trimming your hedge.
Common laurel hedge problems
Well, laurel hedges are not vulnerable to serious diseases, but the main problem they do face can be treated and the hedge often outgrows the disease without any treatment.
The most common problem that affect laurel hedge is powdery mildew, bacterial shothole and leaf spot fungi. All the three diseases affect the leaves, causing distortion, holes and tears the edges. These diseases often develop in autumn and spring, in humid or damp conditions.
The symptoms of powdery mildew include:
- A powdery coating on the surface of the leaf
- The lower side of the leaf turns brown
- The leaves’ edges become jagged and parts that have turned brown fall off, leaving holes on the leaves
The symptoms of bacteria shothole and spot fungi include:
- Brown spots on the surface of the leaves. These spots fall put, resulting in irregular holes all over the leaf
- Lesions on the leaves that develop eventually to a yellowish halo and fall on the ground
These problems can be treated be treated by trimming the affected leaves lightly to encourage new, healthy growth. These diseases are minor, and although they make the plant look unattractive, laurel often outgrows the problems as new unaffected leaves emerge.
- Provides the privacy you need from your neighbors
- Acts like a barrier between your garden and unsightly objects
- Reduces noise
- Acts as a windbreak
- Reduces noise and air pollution
- Acts like a barrier that prevents people from accessing your garden
- Provide food and shelter for birds and other wildlife animals
There are many advantages that come with growing a laurel as a hedge. It is one of the most popular hedging plants in the world mainly because it is easy to grow, tolerates tough growing conditions, grows faster and maintains its evergreen color throughout the year. In addition, this plant requires very little care as you only need to trim it twice a year. Most of the diseases affecting laurel may make the plant have an unattractive look, but laurel often outgrows the diseases, with new growths not being affected. It is however important to prune the affected leaves. So, it’s safe to say that this is one of the best hedging plants you can grow.