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When is it safe (for birds) to cut down laurel hedges?

I have just moved to a garden where the previous owner clearly adored evergreen hedges! You can’t see the garden at all from the house, due to the many stretches of laurel hedging. I intend to remove some of the hedges, to improve the garden for humans and wildlife alike, but do birds nest in laurels? If so, when’s the best time to cut the hedge down?  I’ve examined the shrubs closely, and can’t see any old nests in the hedges, but I’d hate to destroy ideal nesting sites. There are a LOT of trees, shrubs and hedges which will be kept, so can I go ahead with wielding my chainsaw?


  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 21,196
    They might roost in them, but I have never found a nest in one.

    Good luck with digging out the roots. And I hope you aren’t planning to burn the logs - it’s like trying to burn a stone.😁
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • Lol, no - the logs will become part of a lovely woodpile hiding an unsightly fence! 
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 21,137
    If you’re really going to take them down, it might be a good idea to mention it to your neighbours, they may love the seclusion they give.

    I wouldn’t cut mine down for anything, lovely waterproof evergreen winter shelter for the birds.   Although if they’ve grown in the middle of garden, that’s not so good! 

    You can prune them very hard if they’re intruding into the garden, they will grow again with beautiful fresh leaves.   I’ve cut some right down to the ground and they’ve grown back just fine. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • my brother in laws garden was similar, laurel and lots and lots of privet! we ended up widening his garden by 8 feet and making it nearly 10 foot longer, they were so big i needed to use a petrol chainsaw, as all my gardening saws (and all my DIY saws) were too small!
    if you want rid then I would recommend taking them to stumps and then using SBK weedkiller to kill the stumps rather than digging them out (unless you have access to a mini digger, or possibly a JCB)
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 21,137
    We had some like that, petrol chain saw job but a pick axe,  mattock, iron bar and big secateurs got the roots out. 

    People don't seem to realise when they plant these shrubs as little sticks, that they re going to grow into trunks,  I’ve seen them planted so close together, they’ll touch in a few years.
    silly planting them in the middle of a garden, but for the edges I love them, just for the privacy and all year round bird protection. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Thanks everybody! Luckily we have no neighbours so can remove the bushes without complaint. As I said originally, we do have a lot of other shrubs and trees around - many of them evergreen - so the birds won’t lose too much roosting space. The offending laurels were planted a few feet in front of the kitchen window, meaning I can’t see any of the garden behind. Therefore they have to go - I already have SBK, from clearing stumps in my last garden (2 acres of Irish bog!), so will use that for the stumps. 
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