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Laurel Hedge

Hi, I have a laurel hedge planted for over 5 years, every year one part of the hedge gets yellow, brown crispy leaves and they fall off. New leaves grows then but the hedge never gets any bigger, any advice on how I can encourage it to grow? I use chicken pellets for feed and there is bark around the base of them. Thanks
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  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,631
    I think it's best you post a photo of the shrub and also a photo of the base of the shrub. It's unusual for a Laurel to never get bigger in 5 years. Do you prune it once a year?

    If the soil is compacted and not well prepared when originally planted, it can lead to drainage issues which will impact the growth and then show up on the leaves, usually the leaves turn pale green to yellow. I suspect that could be an issue as you say one part of the hedge keeps drying up so there may be an issue in the soil in that section.
  • PlantmindedPlantminded WirralPosts: 998
    Several factors such as soil quality, aspect, weather and watering will influence how your hedge grows, as well as the proximity of other plants and garden structures such as house walls and fences which could be competing for light, water and nutrients or creating barriers to restrict growth.

    If the soil is currently very dry due to the unseasonal lack of rain, I suggest you give all your plants a good watering at root level as soon as possible. Assuming your hedge is showing no sign of pests or diseases, the best way to rejuvenate your hedge after a thorough watering is to improve the soil with the addition of plenty of organic matter by adding garden compost, leaf mould, farmyard manure or soil conditioner.  You can do this in the form of a mulch of at least two inches in depth, added ideally when the soil below is moist so that it retains that moisture.  This should provide all the nutrients your hedge will require in a more natural way than using concentrated organic or synthetic fertilisers.  

    Make sure you prune your hedge at the right time of year, avoiding times when it is hot or dry which will lead to dehydration and leaf yellowing/browning and possible health problems.  The best time is either in late Spring (before growth and the bird nesting season has begun) or in mid-late Autumn (when growth has finished).

    If there are any trees, large shrubs or other plants nearby it may be better to relocate them or prune them to reduce competition with your hedge.  Laurels are pretty robust plants and will respond well to any of the adjustments mentioned above.  I hope this helps.
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,064
    edited 5 May
    The question is, if the rest of the hedge is doing well, what's different about that part? Is there something under the soil like rubble or wall/path footings or tree roots? Is it more exposed to wind (not that laurel normally minds that)?.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,098
    I agree with @Borderline. A photo would help.
    If it's cherry laurel, it should grow quite rapidly after a couple of years, if it's been properly established. They need decent soil initially, and will then cope with virtually anything, but they need lots of water to thrive for that first year or two.
    They're virtually impossible to over water. If one section is failing, it's probably due to other factors, as others say.

    If they were larger specimens on planting,  ie - more than about three feet, it's always harder to get them established too. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Thanks everyone I have posted some pictures, one is where the hedge is doing well, sheltered more by the house. The others then are more exposed to wind. 
  • PlantmindedPlantminded WirralPosts: 998
    Looks like dehydration caused by lack of rainfall combined with exposure to wind.  As previously advised, your plants need watering and mulching.  Also, there could be compaction below that set of plants due to incorrect preparation on initial planting. 

    If the plants don't respond to watering and mulching you may need to remove them, check for any compaction or rubble in the soil in that area, dig the area out and replace the soil with a good depth of fresh topsoil, replant, water and mulch.  Unfortunately some plants can be more vulnerable to the stress caused by lack of water and other factors mentioned before than others.
  • Thank you, from the posts I am thinking the problem is underneath as in the west of ireland there is no shortage of rain!! 
  • PlantmindedPlantminded WirralPosts: 998
    Yes, then it's likely to be an underground problem!  There could be rubble or a seam of rock or clay underneath that area.  I'd take a couple of plants out and dig down as far as you can to investigate.  Some over here would envy your rain!  Keep us posted.
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,631
    It seems to be in a row where the growth is stunted. Definitely need to check with the soil in that area. The wind burn on the leaves suggest a very exposed area. Either way, pruning them further back will encourage more branching so the overall structure of the shrub will be more robust further down as it matures.

    It could still be compacted soil which causes problems with the roots being unable to grow outwards and suffocates the roots and in wet weather, they are sitting in permanent wet causing roots to rot. You may need to dig the area up and incorporate compost and break down the soil. 
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