Laurel is an evergreen shrub that comes in different varieties, such as cherry or mountain laurels. These plants are hardy and produce dense foliage that is easily groomed into hedges. Hedges can be box-shaped, or a tight line of A-shaped shrubs. They can also be groomed into shapes if desired. Use sharp hand pruners when trimming laurel. Electric pruners do too much damage to laurel's foliage.
Cut back new shrubs right after they are planted by 6 to 8 inches. This encourages dense growth at the bottom of the plant.
Prune off half the new growth in the fall and repeat again in the spring before the buds appear. These prunings further encourage new growth.
Start shaping the shrubs when they are three years old. A flat top and vertical sides is a typical hedge shape but is difficult to maintain. This shape holds snow on top which can break branches. A conical or "A" shape eliminates this problem and allows the air and light to reach all parts of the plant. Cut the shrub using hand pruners into the desired shape.
Trim the hedge regularly. When the new growth gets to be more than 1 foot long it is definitely in need of pruning. Formal hedges that are designed to constantly look well-groomed need to be trimmed every two or three weeks. Informal hedges can be trimmed two or three times a year. Use hand pruners to cut away the new growth and reshape the hedge.