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A Guide To Laurel Hedging

A Guide To Laurel Hedging

A Guide To Laurel Hedging

Learn about different laurel varieties, planting tips, maintenance advice and how to choose the perfect laurel for your garden. 

What is Laurel Hedging?

Laurel hedging, known as Prunus laurocerasus, is a popular choice of hedging plant. This versatile evergreen hedge offers an array of benefits that make it a sought-after option for creating beautiful hedges.

Types of Laurel Hedging

Types of Laurel Hedging (Table).png

What to Look for When Choosing Your Laurel Variety

Selecting the right variety of laurel hedging for your garden is a crucial decision that will impact not only the appearance of your landscape but also its maintenance and growth over time. 

Laurels, with their lush foliage and robust nature, are excellent choices for hedges, screens, and decorative plantings.

Considerations for Selection

1. Growth Habits and Size

Mature Height and Width: Consider the final size of the plant. Cherry Laurels can grow quite large, while Otto Luyken Laurels stay relatively compact.

Growth Rate: Faster-growing varieties like Cherry Laurel offer quick privacy but require more frequent pruning.

2. Leaf Characteristics

Leaf Size and Shape: Larger leaves like those of Cherry Laurel provide a denser screen. Smaller leaves, as seen in Portuguese Laurel, offer a more delicate and formal appearance.

Colour and Texture: Varieties like English Laurel 'Aurea' have variegated leaves for added visual interest.

3. Site Suitability

Light Requirements: Most laurel hedges prefer full sun to partial shade, but some, like Schip Laurel, are more tolerant of shady conditions.

Soil Preference: While adaptable, ensure your soil type and pH level are compatible with your chosen variety.

4. Climate and Hardiness

Temperature Tolerance: Ensure the variety is suited to your local climate. Some laurels are more frost-tolerant than others. Wind and Exposure: Consider whether your site is exposed to strong winds or salt spray, which some laurels tolerate better than others.

5. Maintenance and Care

Pruning Needs: Fast-growing varieties will require more frequent pruning to maintain shape.

Disease and Pest Resistance: Some laurels are more resistant to common pests and diseases. Research the resilience of each variety.

6. Aesthetic Appeal

Formal vs. Informal: Decide on the desired look. Portuguese Laurel, for instance, is excellent for a formal hedge, while Cherry Laurel suits a more naturalistic setting.

Seasonal Interest: Consider if the plant offers additional features like flowers or berries. (direct link to the floral and colourful hedges further below)

Additional Tips

Visit Local Nurseries: Seeing plants in person can give you a better idea of their texture, size, and general health. Grasslands has a range of laurel hedges and hedging available. Come visit us at our nursery- we’re open Monday-Friday 9am-4:30pm and Saturday- Sunday 9:30am-4pm.  

Consult with professionals: With over 35 years of experience, our experts at Grasslands can offer advice tailored to your region and needs. Give us a call today on 01565 722766. 

Think Long-Term: Remember, what starts as a small sapling will grow into a substantial plant. Envision how your choice will fit into your garden in the future.

Selecting the right laurel variety is about balancing aesthetic preferences with practical considerations like growth habits, maintenance and site suitability. By carefully evaluating these factors, you can choose a laurel variety that not only enhances your landscape but also thrives in its environment, ensuring enjoyment for many years.

Top 10 Evergreen Hedges for Privacy and Ornamental Purposes

Best Time to Plant your Laurel Hedge

Laurel hedges, known for their dense foliage and rapid growth, include several species like Cherry Laurel and Portuguese Laurel. Each has specific needs, but general guidelines apply for planting.

Optimal Planting Times

1. Autumn Planting (Preferred)

Why Autumn? Cooler temperatures and moist soil conditions in autumn support root development without the stress of summer heat. This allows laurels to establish a robust root system before winter.

Advantages: Reduced need for watering and a head start in root establishment before the growing season.

2. Spring Planting

Best When: If autumn planting isn't possible, early spring, after the last frost, is also suitable.

Considerations: Spring planting requires more diligent watering to support the new plants through the growing season.

3. Avoiding Extreme Weather

Light Requirements: Most laurel hedges prefer full sun to partial shade, but some, like Schip Laurel, are more tolerant of shady conditions.

Soil Preference: While adaptable, ensure your soil type and pH level are compatible with your chosen variety.

 Gardening Tips: The Basics to Keeping Plants Healthy

How to prepare for your Laurel Hedge


Sunlight: Most laurels prefer full sun to partial shade. Wind: While robust, a sheltered spot can help young plants establish.


Drainage: Ensure well-draining soil to prevent root rot. pH: Laurels are adaptable but generally prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil

Soil and Site Preparation

Testing Soil: Ensure well-draining soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH.

Location: Choose a site with full sun to partial shade, depending on the laurel variety

Planting Tips

Watering: New plantings require consistent moisture, especially in spring and summer.

Mulching: Helps retain soil moisture and regulate temperature.

Spacing: Consider the mature size of the laurel species for appropriate spacing. Typically, 2-3 feet apart for most varieties, but check specific requirements for your chosen type.

Planting Steps

  1. Timing: Plant in early spring or fall to avoid extreme weather conditions.
  2. Digging Holes: Each hole should be twice the width and the same depth as the root ball.
  3. Planting: Remove the plant from the pot, loosen the roots gently, and place in the hole. The top of the root ball should be level with the soil surface.
  4. Backfilling: Fill the hole with soil and gently firm down. Water thoroughly.
  5. Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds.


Watering: Regular watering is crucial, especially in the first year. Adjust based on rainfall and season.

Regular Pruning: Encourages dense growth; start after the plants have established.

Fertilisation: Balanced, slow-release fertilisers can be beneficial in the growing season.

Feeding Apply a balanced fertiliser in spring to support growth.


Prune in late spring or early autumn. Regular trimming encourages dense growth.


Keep an eye out for pests or diseases. Prompt treatment can prevent spread.

Laurel hedges are a fantastic choice for almost any garden. With proper planting and care, they can provide beauty and utility for years to come. Whether you're creating a privacy screen, a windbreak, or simply adding greenery, laurels are a reliable and attractive option.

Benefits of Laurel Hedging

Laurel offers a versatile solution for creating a hedge or living screen that serves a multitude of purposes:

Privacy: It creates a natural shield, ensuring privacy from neighbouring properties.

Aesthetic Barrier: Use it to conceal unsightly objects or views, enhancing the overall look of your outdoor space.

Windbreak: Laurel acts as an effective windbreak, reducing the impact of strong winds and creating a more sheltered environment.

Noise Reduction: Laurel hedging acts as a natural buffer, reducing noise from traffic and other sources.

Air Quality: It can mitigate air pollution from passing vehicles, contributing to cleaner air in your garden.

Security: As a dense barrier, it deters unauthorised access to your garden.

Wildlife Haven: Laurel provides both food and shelter for wildlife, fostering biodiversity in your outdoor haven.

Benefits of Laurel Hedging

Instant laurel hedging offers a quick and effective solution for those looking to transform their outdoor space with lush, evergreen beauty. This is particularly advantageous for those who want an immediate transformation without the waiting time typically associated with hedge growth.

Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus 'Rotundifolia')

Ideal Conditions: Moist, well-drained soil, full sun to partial shade

Maintenance: Pruning for shape and size, as needed

Portuguese Laurel (Prunus Lusitanica)

Ideal Conditions: Well-drained soil, full sun to partial shade

Maintenance: Regular pruning for shape, can tolerate hard pruning

Growth: 30 cm (12 inches) to 45 cm (18 inches) per year


Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)

Ideal Conditions: Well-drained soil, full sun

Maintenance: Pruning for shape and size

Growth: 10 cm (4 inches) to 20 cm (8 inches) per year

Common Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)

Ideal Conditions: Well-drained soil, full sun to partial shade

Maintenance: Regular pruning, especially in spring and late summer

Growth: 30 cm (12 inches) to 60 cm (24 inches) per year

English Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus 'English Laurel')

Ideal Conditions: Well-drained soil, partial to full shade

Maintenance: Pruning to control size and shape

Growth: 20 cm (8 inches) to 40 cm (16 inches) per year

Floral and Colourful Laurel Hedging

Laurel trees and hedges are cherished for their practicality and stunning aesthetic appeal. These versatile plants are used in various ways to enhance garden designs. By framing larger plants, defining pathways, or outlining other garden features, laurel hedges bring a sense of order and definition.

Our Top 5 Colourful and Floral Hedges:


Cherry Laurel (Prunus Laurocerasus 'Rotundifolia')

Flowers and Colour: Produces fragrant white flowers in spring, followed by red berries. Dark green leaves offer a classic backdrop.

Ideal Conditions: Thrives in well-drained soil and partial to full sun.

Maintenance: Prune to maintain desired shape and size. Cherry Laurel hedge is relatively low-maintenance.

Growth: 30 cm (12 inches) to 60 cm (24 inches) per year

Golden Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis 'Aurea')

Flowers and Colour: Glossy green and gold leaves create a striking colour palette.

Ideal Conditions: Requires well-drained soil and partial shade.

Maintenance: Regular pruning to shape and control growth.

Growth: 15cm (6 inches) to 30 cm (12 inches) per year.

Rainbow Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis 'Rainbow')

Flowers and Colour: Multicoloured leaves include shades of green, pink, and cream.

Ideal Conditions: Flourishes in well-draining soil with partial to full sun.

Maintenance: Prune to maintain shape and size, particularly in early spring.

Growth: 15 (6 inches) to 30 cm (12 inches) per year.

Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica)

Flowers and Colour: small, fragrant white flowers in late spring to early summer. Followed by dark purple to black berries, adding visual interest to the hedge. Foliage consists of glossy, dark green leaves.

Ideal Conditions: Requires well-drained soil and tolerates both sun and partial shade.

Maintenance: Regular pruning for shape, can tolerate hard pruning

Growth: 30 cm (12 inches) to 45 cm (18 inches) per year

Purple-Leafed Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus 'Herbergii')

Flowers and Colour: Deep purple-red foliage creates a striking visual impact.

Ideal Conditions: Thrives in well-draining soil with partial to full sun.

Maintenance: Prune as needed to shape and control growth.

Growth: 15cm (6 inches) to 30 cm (12 inches) per year.

Is Laurel Hedging Poisonous?

When planning a garden or landscaping with hedging plants, it's crucial to consider not only the aesthetic and practical aspects but also the safety of the plants chosen. While laurel hedges offer many benefits, it's crucial to be aware that laurels, except for Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis), can be poisonous to livestock and animals. 

Common Varieties: Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus 'Rotundifolia'), Portuguese Laurel (Prunus Lusitanica) and other species are popular choices for hedging.

Toxic Components: These plants contain compounds that can release cyanogenic glycosides, which can produce cyanide when the leaves are crushed or chewed.

Safety Precautions

Consider placing laurel hedges in areas less accessible to pets and young children, or choose non-toxic alternatives if this is a significant concern. Regular trimming and cleaning up fallen leaves can reduce the risk of pets or children coming into contact with potentially harmful plant parts.

Educate family members, especially children, about the dangers of eating plant material from the garden. Pet owners should be vigilant and train their pets to avoid eating plants.

Alternatives to Laurel Hedging

When choosing hedging plants for areas accessible to both livestock and children, it's essential to select species that are non-toxic and safe for both. Here are some suitable alternatives to laurel hedging that generally meet these criteria:

Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.):

A robust and dense hedge plant with thorny branches, hawthorn is safe for both livestock and children. It also supports local wildlife with its flowers and berries.

Hazel (Corylus avellana):

Hazel is a great option for a non-toxic hedge that's safe around children and animals. It grows densely and can also provide hazelnuts.

Beech (Fagus sylvatica):

Beech hedges are safe and create a visually appealing barrier with their beautiful foliage, which changes colour seasonally.

Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus):

Similar to beech but more tolerant of wet soils, hornbeam is safe for both livestock and children. It forms a dense, leafy hedge.


Willow (Salix spp.):

Suitable for damp areas, willow is non-toxic and can be woven into living fences. It's fast-growing and safe around both livestock and children.

While these plants are generally non-toxic, it's always a good practice to supervise young children in the garden to prevent them from ingesting plant material. 

Discover our selection of laurel hedging available at Grasslands. Enjoy free delivery on orders exceeding £400 along with fantastic discounts on premium plants across our website and at our nursery.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best type of laurel hedging?

The "best" Laurel hedging depends on factors like desired appearance, growth rate, local climate, and maintenance preferences. Consider these aspects when choosing the ideal laurel variety for your garden. Consulting our experts at Grasslands can provide tailored advice for your specific needs, simply call 01565 722766 or Get in touch.

What is the best way to plant laurel hedging?

The best way to plant laurel hedging for healthy growth is to choose the right time of the year and soil type. Opt for planting in late autumn or early spring when the soil is moist but not waterlogged. Laurel thrives in well-drained soil, so ensure good drainage to prevent waterlogging.

For a detailed guide, check out: How to Plant a Laurel Hedge

How long does it take for laurel hedging to establish?

The time it takes for laurel hedging to establish can vary depending on factors such as the variety of laurel, local climate conditions, and care practices. In general, laurel hedging can take approximately 2 to 3 years to establish a well-developed root system and dense growth. 

However, it's important to note that laurel is known for its vigorous growth, so you can expect to see noticeable progress in the first year after planting. Regular pruning and maintenance can also help expedite the establishment process and promote a healthy, thriving laurel hedge.

What is a good way to care for a laurel hedge?

To care for a laurel hedge effectively, keep it simple with these key tips:
  1. Regular Pruning: Trim your laurel hedge to maintain its shape and encourage dense growth. Prune in early spring and late summer.
  2. Watering: Ensure consistent moisture without waterlogging. Water during dry spells, especially in the first year after planting.
  3. Fertilisation: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertiliser in spring to promote healthy growth.
  4. Weed Control: Keep the area around the hedge free of weeds to reduce competition for nutrients.
  5. Pest and Disease Check: Monitor for pests and diseases, addressing issues promptly.

By following these steps, you can maintain a thriving laurel hedge in your garden.

How tall does a laurel hedge grow?

The height of a laurel hedge can vary depending on the specific variety of laurel, local growing conditions, and pruning practices. In general, laurel hedges can grow to a height of 3 to 4 meters (120 to 156 inches) or even taller if left unpruned. However, with regular pruning and maintenance, you can keep a laurel hedge at your desired height and shape.



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