Resting behind your Laurels

Prunus Laurocerasus Rotundifolia is one hell of a mouthful for one of the most common hedging plants in Britain.  Poor old cherry laurel.  Abroad it is known as the "English Laurel" for good reason - no one plants it as much as we do.

That, of course, is because no one understands it like we do. Prunus laurocerasus is the best roadside hedging plant there is, and with our small island, and seemingly unlimited cars (I read the other day somewhere that car numbers had risen ten times in the last thirty years, but roads had only increased in length by 10%) we need good roadside hedging.

Cherry laurel (so called because of its cherry -like berries) has heavy, leathery leaves that nature designed to completely exclude light, so there would be no weed competiton around a laurel bush.  So a laurel hedge blocks the light of passing cars.  Those same heavy leaves are also hard to move, and as sound travels by vibration, they are excellent dampeners of traffic noise.

Prunus laurocerasus has two other qualities. It is evergreen and so is every bit as effective in midwinter (when traffic noise and light pollution are at their worst) as it is in summer. And it grows quickly to considerable heights - there is a laurel hedge just outside Bristol providing shelter from the M5 that must be at least 20 feet in height.

So the next time you see a cherry laurel hedge by a busy road, be consoled by the thought that the noise you are is somewhat reduced on the other side.

Relax and watch your garden grow.

2 thoughts on “Resting behind your Laurels”

  • Sminter

    Hi
    Could you possible give me some advice on hor to prune my laurel hedge - I have not got a clue

    Thanks
    Sal

    Reply
  • Edward

    Hi Sal,

    It's not so much a question of how as when. If you prune them in June to August, you remove the risk of mildew attack. The best time to prune is on a dry but cloudy day. As for how, some people don't like to use shears or electric trimmers because they leave behind a trial of tattered, half cut leaves. Using secateurs to snip back the stems takes longer and gives you the cleanest end result (try to aim slightly above a bud that faces outwards.) You can decide what is best for you. Don't worry about cutting into old wood if you want to, laurel would regrow from the ground up if you cut it down.

    Reply
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