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New Laurel hedge

Hi All, plant murderer here. Having recently murdered a newly planted conifer hedge, I've replaced with Laurel (common variety) after being reliably informed that it's very hard to kill. However, after reading posts on here (something which I wish I'd done before breaking my back yesterday planting them), I realise that I've planted them too close together (40cms apart).  My main question is.... is there any chance that they will be ok at that distance as I REALLY don't want to have to dig them up and re-plant them?
Additionally, I know that trimming them encourages growth, but can I trim them in November or would I be best leaving them alone for now and waiting until spring?
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  • 40cm apart is in my opinion not that bad a distance apart for laurel. I prefer to not trim hedge plants immediately when they go in the ground but opinions differ on this. The last laurel hedge I put in is about a year and a half planted now and the land owner who is more experienced in planting hedges than me thinks it could do with a first trim now to help it start to grow a bit denser.

    Happy gardening!
  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,192
  • I planted 20 bare root laurels ( 2 metre mature plants) last year ( Nov) approx 50cm apart and they are thriving. It’s very poor soil, so I mulched well and then watered with a soaker hose over winter whenever there was a dry spell. I carried that on during the summer this year. The advice I received was not to prune until the spring of the second year. ( next spring). My soil was so poor that there no worms to be seen when I dug them in (adding some compost and top soil). So I bought some worms online and spread them around to help improve the soil when mulched. The soil quality has vastly improved even in just one year.  Hopefully you will be fine. At 40cm spacing they will just merge more quickly. Good luck. 
  • 40cm apart is in my opinion not that bad a distance apart for laurel. I prefer to not trim hedge plants immediately when they go in the ground but opinions differ on this. The last laurel hedge I put in is about a year and a half planted now and the land owner who is more experienced in planting hedges than me thinks it could do with a first trim now to help it start to grow a bit denser.

    Happy gardening!
    This is what I wanted to hear 😊 thank you.
  • steephill said:
    This is actually the post that I read prior to posting this but didn't provide any opinions on what measurement was 'too close'.

    They're between 2 and 3 feet tall.
  • I planted 20 bare root laurels ( 2 metre mature plants) last year ( Nov) approx 50cm apart and they are thriving. It’s very poor soil, so I mulched well and then watered with a soaker hose over winter whenever there was a dry spell. I carried that on during the summer this year. The advice I received was not to prune until the spring of the second year. ( next spring). My soil was so poor that there no worms to be seen when I dug them in (adding some compost and top soil). So I bought some worms online and spread them around to help improve the soil when mulched. The soil quality has vastly improved even in just one year.  Hopefully you will be fine. At 40cm spacing they will just merge more quickly. Good luck. 

    Mine are only 2-3 feet tall so this is promising, thank you.  In my extremely limited knowledge of these things, my soil appears to be good. Lots of worms, moist, soft, no visible clay seen when trench was dug out. I put a dollop of rootgrow down under each plant and even staked them....it might have looked to some like I knew what I was doing! Effort put in and very sore arms, legs and back today so I'm hopeful.🤞
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 41,327
    They wouldn't need anything if they're that height.  :)
    The reason for cutting back larger specimens [ over 4 foot or so] is to help them establish more readily [a lot of top growth for the root system to deal with] but also to encourage them to thicken out because they aren't able to do that easily, especially if they're potted. 
    I'd say they're too close together, especially if they're in a good, well prepped border. 
    The main 'trunks' on laurel become very thick very quickly in a good site, and they want to become large in every direction.
    They may just grow less well in the circumstances though, as there will be a lot of competition. They aren't hedging plants that suit being kept narrow and tight like some others. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Thanks fairygirl. I'm going to replant them as they're also too close to the fence. I'm thinking 60cms apart and about 70cms in from the fence. Does that sound suitable. I'm aiming for a final height of around 7-8 foot.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 41,327
    If the site's good [and it looks that way]  I wouldn't worry too much about the distance from the fence. Generally speaking, the reason for planting a decent distance from walls and fences is because there's often a bit of a rain shadow, so the section nearest the wall/fence can be drier, making it harder to establish hedging. If the prevailing weather heads towards the fence, it won't matter so much.  :)
    An easier alternative might be to just move every 2nd one forward a bit. They'll get a bit more room to establish, and you'll get a good spread on each plant. They actually don't look too bad as they are though.  :)

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 19,170
    If you leave them as they are, they will have the fence down in a couple of years.
    here are two photos of ours,  1st one in 2013 when  we planted them, 2nd one in 2018,  they were already 5’ in depth.  They are ever wider now.    I could take a phot tomorrow showing how wide.
    You can keep cutting them but they will grow trunks and you will need to actually use a saw to keep them from pushing out the fence.   These are cut 2 - 3 times a year. 
    These shrubs grow huge.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

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