What you need to know about laurel hedge pruning

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Trimming a laurel hedge is tricky. One person will swear it takes the right person with specific knowledge, and another will say it’s a hearty plant that can take getting cut way back. Both are true. It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Here is a guide to laurel hedge pruning without feeling like you hacked it.

Laurel hedge pruning tips

The people that are looking for an expert when it comes to laurel hedge pruning have particular concerns. Laurels are commonly trimmed to achieve a particular shape, like rounded or squared, or to serve a purpose, such as a privacy hedge.

Cutting back too much will detract from the shape; if you don’t trim frequently enough, your bush gets too big and runs the risk of overgrowing its shape.

When this happens, cutting it back may be the only way to retrieve your previous look, but that option often leaves homeowners frustrated.

Regardless, depending on how long you let it go, you may have no choice. The good news is, laurels come back very well after getting trimmed. If they are cut back in late winter or early spring, you will see plenty of fresh growth in the ensuing months. Like many shrubs, make the cut above a leaf or twig outgrowth. The downside is that while you are waiting for your bush or privacy hedge to grow back, you won’t have the shape you want. However, if you’ve been on top of the trimming for a long time and just let it go for a year, maybe two, there is a method to bring it back without drastic cutting.

It may, however, take a couple of trimmings to mould it back into shape. The main idea is to thin the leaf coverage without creating bare spots in it. Use either hand or electric trimmers and a pair of loppers. Start by examining the canopy of the bush.

Determine how thick it is. Preserve the inside of the canopy if you want to maintain the shape. Before trimming, determine what branches you want to keep, not the ones you want to cut. Make your first cuts with the purpose of establishing a line that will carry all the way around the bush. The intention is to take a canopy that may be as much as a foot thick and cutting it down to just one or two leaves.

When the leaves and inner bush growth that was previously shaded get sun, it adds to the thickness of the foliage. When this growth matures, the new canopy will allow you to cut further into the bush on your next pruning.