Skip to main content

In this article, I’m going to show you how to prune cherry laurel (also known as the common laurel) the right way.

Here’s the video from my Youtube channel if you can’t be bothered reading the whole thing!

There’s a lot of gardeners out there who love to cut anything and everything with a hedge trimmer in order to get the desired shape.

That’s fine, however with certain shrubs such as the cherry laurel (the most common laurel), it’s actually bad for the shrub.

Let me explain why.

First of all, Laurel leaves are, thick, glossy and have a leathery feel to them. Because of this, hedge cutters tend to have trouble cutting the leaf properly.

The reason hedge cutters struggle is because when hedge cutters cut, they actually rip rather than give a clean cut; unlike hand shears.

Because of the laurels glossy leaves, the hedge cutter struggles to grip the leaf. When it finally does grip, it tears the leaf.. Again, unlike hand shears.

Here’s a couple of examples of a laurel cut with hedge cutters below.

how to prune cherry laurel

Laurel cut with hedge cutters

how to prune a laurel hedge

As you can see, hedge cutters can leave an untidy finish. Not only that, the rough cut can cause the leaves to get infected, turn brown, and eventually fall off.

Here’s another example of a cherry laurel hedge that has had regular pruning with a hedge cutter.

dying laurel branches

The one above has been cut too closely, and the rough cut over time has caused this hedge to die off in places. You can see instead of the dark green leaves that usually appear, it’s just dead, diseased branches in it’s place.

You want to secateur these out when you can, allowing for new dense foliage and new shoots to take its place.

So, what is the best way to prune a laurel hedge?

I’ve been doing this for 10 years, I’ve tried all methods.

In my experience the best way to prune a laurel hedge and get the best results is with hand shears!

And this goes for any kind of laurel, whether it be a bay laurel, cherry laurel or a Portuguese laurel.

Because the shears give a nice clean cut and don’t rip; this allows for a better finish. It also stops the leaves from becoming infected and turning brown.

Brown leaves amongst green foliage never looks good.

In my experience, you can get a much tighter, neater finish when using the shears. Although I admit, it’s a little bit more time consuming!

We planted this laurel hedge from scratch with young plants, It’s only ever been cut with shears to encourage healthy new growth. And again, in my opinion, looks much healthier than if I were to use a hedge cutter on it.

how to prune cherry laurel

Using shears to cut a laurel hedge.

If you’re reading this article thinking, ‘but Aston, there’s no way I can always just use shears!’ –  That’s fine!

As a gardener, I’m guilty myself! I understand you can’t always use shears.

It’s either too time consuming for the job you’ve quoted. Or the laurel is simply too big and you’ll never reach it with just shears.

That’s all fine.

This article only explains the best way to prune a laurel. It doesn’t mean you have to always do it this way, as I know as well as anybody it depends on the circumstance.

However, if I get a chance, and for maximum job satisfaction; I think it’s a good idea to try and use hand shears where possible.

how to prune laurel hedge

Starting the laurel hedge

cherry laurel using shears

Completing the laurel hedge using shears.

For anyone wondering, the hand shears I currently use are the Bahco P51 Professional hedge shears.

Bahco P51 Professional Hedge Shears

Bahco P51 Hedge Shears

I know what you’re thinking, they’ve seen better days – I agree.

I bought these around 6 years ago for around £50. At the time of checking now, you’re looking at around £60-£70.

Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t the cheapest shears around.

However, they are built to last. I’ve had cheaper pairs before and they don’t last anywhere near as long.

They usually come with plastic handles that end up perishing and breaking within a few months.

So, now you know how to prune cherry laurel, lets take a quick look at when to prune.

Leave a Reply

Follow us on Social Media