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We have an aging 6 foot wooden fence section about 12m long running East-West. Rather than replace it I'm thinking about planting laurel which is attractive and will grow higher with time and care... We have no immediate neighbour but it would block a sightline to a road.

Our local place sells bushes already taker than me but quite narrow. I'm trying to work out how many if need that they would provide coverage in a timely fashion, and how fast they'd grow outwards.

In an ideal world I'd plant them 1-2m the far (north) side of the existing fence to avoid losing space but then the fence would be providing them a lot of shade and I wonder if this is a deal-breaker?

I'm in North East England.

  • which laurel? Prunus laurocerasus, Prunus lusitanica, Aucuba japonica, or Laurus nobilis (this last one's unlikely I think) Need to know to judge height and spread... – Bamboo Jan 14 '18 at 18:13
  • Hmm unless there is an obvious default choice - regular green laurel - I'd need to check! – Mr. Boy Jan 14 '18 at 18:29
  • I ask because you describe laurel as 'attractive' - plain green laurel usually means P. laurocerasus, and I wouldn't describe it as attractive, particularly, more 'serviceable' or utilitarian – Bamboo Jan 14 '18 at 19:23
  • Compared to leylandii...! I guess personal taste but this looks the most likely... Cherry laurel? – Mr. Boy Jan 14 '18 at 20:11
  • @Bamboo: why do you say "unlikely" for Laurus nobilis? brc.ac.uk/plantatlas/plant/laurus-nobilis – Giacomo Catenazzi Jan 15 '18 at 8:59
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Cherry laurel is Prunus laurocerasus - have a look at Prunus lusitanica https://www.rhs.org.uk/Plants/14003/Prunus-lusitanica/Details though - it's hasn't got quite such large, rather coarse looking leaves, has a more delicate appearance, though it isn't delicate at all, and will also make a good hedge, and is far less ubiquitous than P. laurocerasus. Also less reminiscent of Victorian shrubberies and cemeteries, and won't become invasive, which is a slight possibility with P. laurocerasus. If you intend to use a hedgetrimmer, then any leaves which have been cut in half will be less noticeable with P. lusitanica. Its flowers are similar, but held in a more spraylike arrangement compared to the upright 'candles' of P. laurocerasus. If you really want P. laurocerasus, go for Prunus laurocerasus 'rotundifolia', which has slightly narrower and less coarse leaves.

Planting distance between plants (for both varieties) is 60-90 cm - planted at 90cm, they will fill in and make a solid hedge, but at 60cm, they'll do that quicker. I'd go for around 75/80cm myself. This link http://www.laurelhedging.com/faq.html should be helpful, and answer any other questions you have too. Rate of growth depends on conditions, but probably about a foot to 18 inches a year - keep well watered during dry spells in summer.

As for the narrowness of the ones you've seen, it's necessary to remove some of the height in spring to force the plants to bush out from the base anyway, otherwise your hedge will be bare at the base within 2 or 3 years.

  • just remember new planted shrubs don't do much in the first year after planting- most of the energy of the plants is used in establishing the roots and then 18 months later they shoot off. just remember also that regular trimming will thicken up the hedge in time and top out the plants when you get near to the desired height- trimming is usually done in summer- you should get 10ft in 7 to 10 years if you start with 3ft plants. – olantigh Jan 27 '18 at 16:44

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