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Bay tree pruning

Hi, I would like to cut my bay trees down quite a lot but don't know how much to take off , they block the sun in the afternoon ( not that there's any this time of year) but managing them is getting a bit difficult. 

Kind regards




  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700

    I'm assuming this is Laurus Nobilis, it's a bit far for me to see. Lovely mature shrubs you have there. They can be cut down quite hard if you need to get them down to a certain size. But because they are mature, you will get unsightly large stumps in areas where you cut back. As long as that is fine for you, then you can prune how you want it. Maybe try one quarter first to see how it goes. 

  • Wow ! Thank you for a quick response, I'm hoping to cut possibly a third off the top and shape round , I don't mind that there will be no leaves and just branches , I take it theit will come back to life next year possibly? . Can I cut it at this time of year . I'm not sure what type of bay it is but it's not the edible kind . Thanks 

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700

    Hello Warrenmulliner, Laurus Nobilis can be used in cooking for flavouring. Try Googling to see if you recognise the leaf shape. They are slightly wavy edged and the green tones are quite deep in colour. 

    If you are not sure, maybe photograph your trees much closer or photograph a few leaves.

    Pruning them back will be fine. But just be mindful, they may take some time to recover. If you have ever seen a heavily chopped down Lime tree, then I hope you get the picture. 

  • JoeXJoeX Posts: 1,783


    Hack off as much as you like !


    Last edited: 28 October 2017 20:02:26

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,312

    Tin Pot's plant is Prunus laurocerasus, Laurel, sometimes called Bay-laurell, Not to be confused with Warren's Laurus nobilis and definitely not to be added to stews

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • JoeXJoeX Posts: 1,783
    nutcutlet says:

    Tin Pot's plant is Prunus laurocerasus, Laurel, sometimes called Bay-laurell, Not to be confused with Warren's Laurus nobilis and definitely not to be added to stews

    See original post


    Im learning daily at the moment, so do bear with me.  I was told that mine was a bay laurel, and that the berries, leaves and wood were toxic. Now I'm not sure.

    Should I be calling this a cherry laurel?

    It definitely has black cherry type fruit, as it caused a bit of a panic when we had a kids BBQ this summer and thought the berries were poisonous.

    Oddly enough my sister in law ate one without any side effects.

    According to this link the text says the berries are edible. But in the summary says they are toxic if injested.

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700

    Hi Tin Pot, your shrub definitely looks like a Cherry Laurel. Not Bay Laurel. If you look on your RHS link, the details about the plant is on the lower left-hand side of the shaded box. The 'Genus' section is only describing plants within that group of the Prunus family, but not necessarily discussing the plant inside the boxes below it.

    It's what is inside the shaded boxes that concerns you. In the case of the leaves and fruit, it 'can' be harmful if injested.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,312

    tin Pot, I find it easier to use the proper names of plants because they never apply to the wrong plant. Cherry Laurel, Bay Laurel, Portugal Laurel are confusing and dodgy because one of them is used in cooking and the others will do you no good.

    you have Prunus laurocerasus, don't eat it

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • imageIs it too late to cut these down to a more manageable level. Do I have to wait until next year ?

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,312

    I've hacked them successfully at the end of January.  Never tried at this time of year

    In the sticks near Peterborough
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