How to prune cherry laurel

Written by kimberly johnson
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How to prune cherry laurel
(laurel blossom image by Alison Bowden from

Cherry laurel is known by the scientific name Prunus laurocerasus, and is also called English laurel. It is a shrub often used as a hedge due to its thick foliage. In the summer, the shrubs produces tiny white flowers that have spiky petals and a pink centre. If left unpruned, a single cherry laurel shrub will eventually grow to be up to 20 feet wide. Regular pruning not only keeps the shrub a manageable size but improves the appearance as well.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Dust mask
  • Electric hedge trimmers
  • Extension cord
  • Step ladder
  • Rake

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  1. 1

    Put on gloves and eye protection in preparation for pruning. If you have allergies, it's a good idea to also wear a dust mask while pruning.

  2. 2

    Plug the cord of the electric hedge trimmers into a nearby electrical socket. If necessary, use an extension cord.

  3. 3

    Decide on how high you want the cherry laurel to be. If you just want to shape the shrub, plan on removing approximately 2 to 3 inches from all sides. More severe pruning can be done if desired, but the shrubs will not look very good until they develop new foliage in approximately one month.

  4. 4

    Turn on the hedge trimmers and place the blades flat against the top of the cherry laurel hedge at the location where you want to prune it. Move the blades slowly across the top of the cherry laurel to prune the top of it. If necessary, use a step ladder so that you can reach the top.

  5. 5

    Return to the starting point and hold the electric trimmer blades vertically at the bottom of one side of the shrub. Move the trimmers slowly upward along the side of the cherry laurel angling them in slightly at the upper section of the shrub. This angled cut should be subtle and will give the cherry laurel a polished look.

  6. 6

    Repeat the steps to prune the opposite side of the cherry laurel, as well as the two ends.

  7. 7

    Rake up any clippings on the ground and dispose of them in the garbage or a compost pile.

Tips and warnings

  • It's best to prune cherry laurels during periods where there is little rain, as moisture promotes the growth of bacteria on freshly pruned bushes.
  • You can prune cherry laurel any time during the normal growing season between April and August.

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