How to care for laurel hedges

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Laurels grow as tall tree-like shrubs, reaching heights 3 metres (10 feet) or more, depending on the variety. Some laurels may reach up to 12 metres (40 feet) high while the more diminutive varieties only grow to 1.5 metres (5 feet) tall. Laurels are evergreen plants that provide year-round interest to the landscape. The plants produce spring or early summer flowers and have glossy, green leaves. These plants tolerate a range of soil conditions and only need basic maintenance to remain attractive and healthy.

Plant laurels in an area that receives full sunlight and has well-drained soil. The mature size of the laurel depends on the variety and plants spread up to 3 metres (10 feet) wide, so choose a planting location that has room for the mature plant's spread.

Water the laurel every 10 to 14 days in the spring and summer months. Use enough water to moisten the top 20 to 25 cm (8 to 10 inches) of soil. Laurels tolerate moderate drought but grow and leaf out best in soil that remains evenly moist without becoming soggy.

Spread a 2.5 cm (1 inch) layer of compost over the top of the soil surrounding the trunks each spring. The compost improves the soil and adds trace nutrients to the site. Laurels do not require fertilisation.

Prune laurels in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Cut back dead and damaged branches to the nearest healthy wood. Prune the remaining growth back by up to a third of its length to control the size and shape of the plant.

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