If you're looking to get a hedge established fairly quickly grace, you're best buying pot grown plants. It can be expensive - I'm almost 100% sure you can't buy laurel as bare root plants which makes it much cheaper- but the advantage of pot grown is that you can plant now if your site is ready. Bare root is only available during the late autumn and winter - not so much fun to be planting outside! Don't make the mistake of buying them too big either - they don't establish as well as a smaller size will, and are even dearer.. Something at about 3 feet is ideal. Most nurseries Laurel and you can also get them online from various specialist hedging nurseries
I've recently picked up some 2-3 foot laurel in pots in the sale from a garden centre for a fiver each. Some of the leaves are a little bit yellow and slightly pot bound but nothing that a bit of TLC won't sort out! Might be a good time to look as a lot of our local garden centres are having sales at the moment.
I've got laurel for privacy in various areas of my garden and it grows at least 1-2 feet per year. Agree the smaller plants have established better than the 6 foot one I bought a few years ago and are almost the same size now
I've seen it happen quite often grace, and it's understandable. You'd think if you bought 5 foot plants they'd make an impact right away and you get a nice big hedge quickly, but it doesn't work like that. A houseowner near me was trying to sell their house a few years ago and it bordered the road. Most of the garden was at that side so they thought a hedge was the answer. They must have spent a fortune on potted laurels at about 5/6 feet. They still look awful - yellow and sickly - and have barely grown because they just won't establish. I bought one from the nursery last year at around 3 foot and it's grown a foot in all directions already - and it's only just been planted out, having been potted on in spring. They'll grow a couple of feet a year easily once they get going, just as Abby says. I had to move a very large, established one last summer and it was hacked back to around a foot high, with virtually no foliage left on it. It's growing well in it's new spot as part of the boundary hedge
When you put any kind of hedging in, put time , effort and goodness into the ground you're planting into - it really pays off. Your hedge will get off to a great start and will really thrive.
Think carefully about a laurel hedge and the size if can get to, though it's one advantage is that you do a renovation prune on it. It is poisonous though so if there is livestock on the other side of the hedge especially sheep, avoid it. If you have a dog that is likely to chew the fruit it can give a serious upset - all members of the Prunus family have cyanide in the stones. If you still want it, maybe go for Prunus lusitanica 'Brenelia', which as a distinctive red stem and looks less bolshy