Which Laurel goes where?

At Ashridge Trees HQ, we have a very advanced system for logging all the queries that come in from our customers. Her name is Catherine and we'd be in deep trouble without her, so please be nice to her or her staff when you give us a call!

One question that she's heard a few times is about which of the three types of laurel bushes to use in a particular site. Cherry or Common Laurel, Portugal Laurel and Bay Laurel will all do well in shady spots, although Bay Laurel won't be happy in very deep shade.

Cherry Laurel has the largest leaves and makes the best roadside hedge for blocking out the light of passing cars and muffling traffic noise. It won't grow on chalk or by the sea and can struggle in the coldest parts of the North and Scotland.

Portugal Laurel has a ruddy tinge to the new stems and leaves and is the only one that will succeed on chalky ground. It is also the hardiest, so if you live in the far North and Scotland, this is definitely the one to go for.

Bay Laurel is the same plant that provides bay leaves for the kitchen and is the tenderest of the three. It will be fine in the dappled shade of a deciduous tree, or in a spot that misses the sun during winter, but isn't recommended for a year round shady spot. There is quite a bit of varied opinion about how well it does in exposed sites - it may have a problem further North as the wind gets colder and more drying but down here in Somerset it looks great atop a blustery hill.

If you have any more questions, please drop us a comment!

2 thoughts on “Which Laurel goes where?”

  • James Scrimgeour

    I would like to grow a laurel hedge but it will be on heavy clay and I believe this may be a problem ?? Please can you advise.
    Very many thanks for any advice you can give.
    Regards

    Reply
    • Edward

      Hi James,

      It depends! The clay is not the problem, Laurel loves a nice bit of clay.

      The problem might be too much water & damp.
      In our part of the world, evergreen trees generally shun wet soils.

      Clay will tend to trap water if it can, but it all depends on where you are planting it.
      Clay on a hill top will be perfect, but clay at the bottom of a sloping garden with a wall at the end in a low valley where it rains all the time is likely to be pretty bog-like (unless it has had proper drainage works installed - so many possibilities!).

      The bottom line is this: if puddles persist on the surface of the soil for over 12-24 hours after a period of heavy winter rain, your soil is on the wet side and Laurel is not the best choice.

      Holly, Ilex aquifolium, is a native tree that is much happier in our climate. If you have concerns about the drainage in your site, it is worth considering it.

      I hope that helps!

      Reply
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