Laurel grows in coastal areas where salt spray damages more sensitive plants.

The Distance to Plant Laurel Hedges

by Eulalia Palomo

Skip the fence construction and plant a living wall with fast-growing laurel shrubs (Prunus laurocerasus). Use this evergreen shrub to create a private space in which to play or relax. With the right spacing, English laurel gives you year-round privacy and wind protection. It grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 9, but be aware that it can be invasive in some areas.

1. Planning

Planning and laying out the hedge will help you determine how many laurels you need to buy. Laurel shrubs grow best in sunny areas or in part shade, but they can grow in full shade. Start by attaching a string between stakes at each end of the hedge site. This will give you a straight line and help lay out the work area. Mark planting spaces every 2 feet for each laurel shrub. Laurel shrubs have a spread of up to 8 feet, but by planting 2 feet apart, you will create a dense hedge. Space the hedge 4 to 5 feet away from the house, garage or other landscape structures.

2. Purchasing Plants

Depending on your budget for the project, you can create an instant hedge with semi-mature 3- to 4-foot-tall shrubs. However, mature plants cost more than smaller ones, so if you are on a tight budget, start will small shrubs. Laurel is a moderate- to fast-growing shrub that grows about 1 foot per year, so even if you start small, you will have a mature hedge in a few years.

3. Planting Preparation

Early spring is the best time to plant, or, in mild climates, you can plant in fall, winter or early spring. Summer and early fall planting are possible, but not desirable as the heat and dry soil cause stress on the new transplants. Plant a hedge by digging out a long trench that is the same depth as the nursery pots and twice as wide. Pull out extra plastic shovels and get your little helpers involved in the digging.

4. Planting and Spacing

To plant, pull each shrub out of the nursery pot and lift it by the root ball. Set the shrubs into the trench 2 feet apart. Have a helper hold the shrubs straight as you refill the soil around each shrub. Ensure the base of each trunk is level with the soil line. After planting, water each shrub, soaking the soil as deep as the depth of the planting trench.

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