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Help needed please with laurel hedge issues...



  • jwadleyjwadley EssexPosts: 1
    I have been reading this forum with interest and wonder if there might be some suggestions to help with the recent, hopefully reversible, demise of part of my laurel hedge.
     I'm sure like many experienced gardeners, my garden suffered in the long, hot and dry summer last year.  The hedge screens the front of a Tudor farmhouse in rural Essex with  moderately heavy clay soil but some chalk and loam. The long laurel hedge at the front of the house has grown rapidly over the last few years, about which I was very proud and much as the experience of fellow gardeners early on in this forum. However, an approximate 10 feet segment  dropped its leaves during the hot summer last year, this part of the hedge is closer to a conifer tree and a large screening Leylandii belt.
     Some of the smaller branches at the top edge, as can be seen in the photograph, still seem to carry leaves, but some branches are definitely dead and 'snap'  with brown wood rather than green sapwood.  I'm a pretty experienced gardener but not a great hedge expert,  so my first instinct knowing how bullet-proof and rapidly growing laurel hedging is, would be to cut the hedge down to what looks like live branches, if this proves to be the case, in the hope that it will spring back into life if I feed, mulch and water it carefully in the spring.   Hopefully the gap exposing a view of part of the house would be closed reasonably quickly with new growth. I do wonder, however, about disease,  although the rest of the hedge is very healthy, since some of the branches have a black residue on them, seen in the second photograph.  I suppose the 'nuclear option' would be to have this whole section of the hedge replanted, but  obviously this would be expensive and a bit of an upheaval. 
     Any suggestions gratefully received.

     you you 
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 16,776
    I don't think it will ever do much, it’s planted so close to the wall which doesn’t help, probably shaded from the rain as well.  You could try bringing it out about foot, but I suppose that will spoil your line. 
    I don’t think it needs to be there, the wall is higher there. The other one will thicken out in time. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Hey everyone this thread is great, it has given me hope! ☺
    We had 100 of these planted in November 2017 so it's in 18 months now & is still far from resembling a hedge!
    I know the first thing is some serious weeding and cleaning up around them, I did last spring&summer and give it a feed of chicken manure&seaweed fertiliser on the garden shops advice.
    From reading this thread I've bought fish blood & bone for this year and mulch and am going to get scissor happy on it too!
    What I'm unsure about is how much to take off each plant when @ the minute there only about 3ft high on average?! Thanks for any advice!
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 16,776
    If they were mine I’d cut them in half, sounds drastic but they will make that growth again this summer and be thick all the way up, Stronger growth will be much healthier than thin like yours are at the moment. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Thank you Lyn it's what I feared but we aren't going to miss half of them the way they are at the moment! 😢 I will do it and send pics later down the line for the next person to pluck up the courage!
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 16,776
    That’s the way Aiden by the end of this summer you’ll see a big difference. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 65,455
    Yes reduce the height by half and also cut any remaining sideshoots back by half as well. Don’t worry ... it’ll be a grand hedge ... just remember to keep the bottom clear 😊 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Thank you both, I'll be wishing the summer away once I give it a haircut ☺ 
  • Hi, hope you don’t mind me adding to this thread. I’m no gardener but I love our laurel hedge which is planted at the front of our house on a main road. It’s been there longer than us so I reckon it’s almost 20 years old. We have never watered nor fed it and it’s usually fine with a trim every year or so - very healthy and a good screen between us and the road. 

    However last year it developed what I think is powdery mildew. I looked online and advice suggested it would recover by itself. My partner pruned it back later last year (autumn I think?) - just the top and the road-facing side (south facing).

    Now the un-pruned bits of hedge look healthy but the pruned bits look awful and although there are new shoots growth is definitely stunted.

    Do you think I should:

    Prune it? All of it or just diseased bits?

    Feed it? With what?

    Thanks in advance for any advice.

  • Hi everyone, I was hoping to be back with a happy report for you but I've had a setback!
    About 2 weeks ago Jack frost came and killed all the new growth 😔 it was doing so well! In hindsight I should have waited until May to cut back when any chance of frost had passed.
    Have you any advice on what I could do to help them now? The stems of the new growth that has died are quite rubbery and doesn't break off easily should I try cut out all the dead leaves or leave it to recover itself? Thanks for any advice a disheartened learner.. 
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