Trimming cherry laurel correctly

When and how often should you trim cherry laurel hedges? Our guide will show you what to consider when it comes to pruning cherry laurel.

Cherry laurel hedge beside a lawn
Regular trimming helps cherry laurels to retain their shape.

Overview: Trimming cherry laurel 

  • Beware of poisonous stems: always wear personal protective equipment as you work and be sure only to handle the cut stems when wearing gloves
  • Pruning cherry laurel back severely is only allowed from October to the end of February 
  • Light shaping should be performed at the end of June 
  • Use a manual hedge trimmer for optimal shaping results 
  • Add fertiliser to nourish and protect your cherry laurel 

When is the best time to cut cherry laurel hedge? 

From a botanical perspective, there are three ideal times a year to trim this type of hedge. You can cut cherry laurel several times as needed, but in most cases it is sufficient to choose one time to do so, as you do not need to cut this hedge often.

When can you trim cherry laurel hedge?

Section 39(5) of the Federal Nature Conservation Act sets out the times of year when trimming hedges is permitted. Severe pruning is permitted from 1 October to the end of February. Dramatic cherry laurel pruning is prohibited during the warm season from 1 March to the end of September. Only light pruning of new shoots is permitted during this period, and only if no birds are nesting in the hedge. 

The right tools

Both motorised and manual hedge trimming tools are generally suitable for trimming cherry laurel. For an optimal cut, however, it is best to use a manual hedge trimming shears such as the STIHL PH 10

If you have a lot of hedging to trim, you can also use an electric hedge trimmer. Bear in mind, though that the result will reflect the shorter working time compared to trimming with manual shears. If you trim your cherry laurel with an electric hedge trimmer, you will inevitably damage some of the large leaves. These cutting lines then dry out and mar the appearance of the hedge by causing brown patches to develop. However, the plants will quickly reshoot, meaning that the brown areas will soon be covered up and your hedge will look much better shortly after trimming. 

The same applies if you use a chainsaw to cut your hedge. In the case of cherry laurel in particular, it takes comparatively long for new leaves to replace the damaged leaves. We therefore advise against using a chainsaw to trim the plant.

Beware of poisonous stems

Cherry laurel is poisonous and can cause skin irritation. You should therefore always wear gloves to touch the cut stems of cherry laurel. Make sure you wear long-sleeved clothing and gloves when trimming cherry laurel and caring for this hedge.

Trimming cherry laurel correctly

The speed at which this hedge grows depends on the variety. While the etna variety grows 10 to 30 centimetres a year, species such as Portuguese laurel grow by up to 40 centimetres annually. Regular trimming is therefore important to ensure that the hedge retains its shape. You can also radically prune cherry laurel in late winter if necessary. 

Caring for cherry laurel

As well as trimming, cherry laurel needs proper care to grow healthily. That’s why you should fertilise your hedge regularly. Work bonemeal and compost into the soil in mid-March and if necessary, add sulphate of potash in August to protect cherry laurel from frost.

A person applying fertiliser to a cherry laurel hedge with a shovel
Bonemeal and compost are recommended as fertilisers.

Unlike most other hedge plants, this otherwise very undemanding ornamental tree requires additional watering during dry periods in particular, though it does not tolerate waterlogging. 

Cherry laurel needs a continuous supply of water, as its large leaves transpire moisture all year round. You can quickly tell if this hedge isn't getting enough water because its leaves first turn brown and then fall off. But yellow leaves are not always a sign that the plant is getting too little water; discolouration of the leaves can also be an indication that the planting site is too sunny or the plant is suffering from a hedge disease.

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