Perfectly Spacing Your Laurel Hedge: A Comprehensive Guide
Creating a beautiful, lush laurel hedge is a great way to add privacy and functionality to your garden or outdoor space, and these types of hedges are a popular option for gardens of all sizes. While laurel hedges are relatively easy to maintain, there is a certain level of precision required to achieve the perfect hedge look.
Laurel hedge spacing may seem like a minor detail, but it is actually one of the most important factors in creating a successful laurel hedge and maintaining your greenery for a long time. Too much spacing and the hedge won’t provide enough privacy or form a cohesive barrier. Too little spacing and your hedge will look overcrowded and unkempt and won’t grow to its full potential.
So, how do you know what the correct spacing should be for laurel hedging plants? We took a closer look at all you need to know!
Benefits of Laurel Hedges
Wondering why you should plant a laurel hedge in the first place? These are popular hedges - and for good reason! Some of the main benefits they offer include:
A well-grown laurel hedge will give you plenty of privacy from nosy neighbours - this is a hedge that doesn’t get too thin or sparse, and it can grow up to a good height if you let it. A cherry laurel hedge is the best option here, as this is a fast-growing variety and works well to create hedges from 1m in height all the way up to 4m in height or even bigger!
A laurel hedge is also great at reducing noise - this is because its dense hedge foliage and large flat leaves absorb sound, meaning that you won’t be disturbed by the sound of traffic or other outdoor noises. Once again, this can also help you to get a little space from your neighbours!
One of the most beautiful benefits of having a laurel hedge is that it attracts wildlife. Its evergreen foliage provides food for birds and other wildlife, while its dense structure offers ideal nesting spots for birds away from predators.
Read the 12 best hedges for wildlife.
Laurel hedge plants also grow very quickly, which is great if you want to create a hedge quickly. In fact, these hedges can grow between 30 and 60cm in the space of a single year - perfect for fast results!
Understanding Hedge Spacing
When it comes to growing a thick, lush, and healthy hedge, proper spacing is a crucial factor.
Hedge spacing is important for two main reasons. Firstly, it ensures that the hedge looks full and aesthetically pleasing when it is fully grown - essential for providing privacy. Secondly, proper spacing prevents overcrowding of the plants, allowing them to receive adequate airflow and sunlight. This means that they remain healthy and grow at a steady rate, without having to fight for resources and compete with each other.
Factors That Impact Hedge Spacing
There are several external factors that can impact the ideal hedge spacing for your laurel plant, and these include:
The climate in your area can have a big effect on how much space you need to leave between laurel shrubs. In areas with more extreme temperatures, you may need to leave slightly more space so that the plants have enough room to get the air and sunlight they need. Although it is worth noting that laurels are relatively shade tolerant in any event.
Your Desired Final Hedge
You also need to consider the end result you are hoping to achieve - if you want your hedge to be dense and full, then you will need to leave less space between the plants, allowing them, to grow closer together and create a thicker effect. On the other hand, if you want your hedge to have a more spaced-out look where privacy is not so important, then you can leave more room for each plant.
The Ultimate Height of your Hedge
It is important to consider the ultimate height of your hedge and at what height you intend to maintain it. If you are going for a taller hedge of say 2-3m in height, then you will need to space your plants further apart (regardless of the initial height) to allow them to have enough space when they are fully grown. However, if you only intend to keep your hedge at 1-2m in height, then you can plant them slightly closer together as the plant doesn’t need to achieve such a great height so it’s roots don’t need to compete as much for important nutrients in the soil. Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you are buying smaller plants to start with that you need to put them closer together – this is not the case. It all hinges on how tall you ultimately want the hedge to get to.
The Number of Plants You Have
This may seem obvious, but the number of plants you have access to will also impact your hedge spacing. If you have fewer plants, you may have to place them closer together to create the same dense effect - but this can mean compromising elements such as hedge length and overall health.
Ideal Spacing for Laurel Hedges
So, what is the ideal hedge spacing for laurel plants? Generally speaking, you should leave between 2 and 3 feet between each plant for an even, healthy hedge. This allows for enough space for the plants to receive adequate airflow and sunlight, while still giving you the dense and full effect that you are after. Most gardeners opt for 2 feet between plants for a good fast result, but around 2.5-2.6 feet is a good compromise without negatively impacting the root system if you want to save a bit of money and buy less plants, but it will just take a little longer for them to join up into a hedge.
Practical Tips for Planting Laurels
As well as taking time to consider proper spacing, there are also some practical tips that you can follow to ensure your laurel hedge thrives:
Prepare the Soil First
A great hedge starts with great soil, so make sure to prepare the soil before planting. Add plenty of organic matter, such as compost or aged manure, and dig it in well with a garden fork to create a nice tilth for your laurel plants.
Depending on the type of soil in your garden, you may need to add extra nutrients, such as a general-purpose fertilizer, to ensure your laurel plants get the sustenance they need. Applying fertilizer and mulch to your laurel hedge can help to promote healthy growth and encourage vigorous blooming. Fertilize your laurels in early spring, before the new buds start to swell - use a slow-release fertilizer specifically formulated for shrubs, as this will provide all the nutrients they need over an extended period. Fertilizing in the spring is particularly important as this is the time of year when they are going to put on the most new growth.
A thick layer of mulch can also help to keep your plants healthy, as this will help to retain moisture and protect the roots from extreme temperatures. Make sure to use organic mulch, such as wood chips or straw - this will break down over time and release additional nutrients into the soil.
Proper watering is crucial to establishing a newly planted hedge - you need to strike a balance between giving them enough water, but not too much. The trick here is to water deeply but infrequently - this ensures the roots have access to enough water without the plants being saturated.
It is worth noting that laurels do not like being planted in heavy clay or waterlogged soil and they can struggle to establish in these conditions so consider ways to aid the drainage if this will potentially be an issue for you.
Regular pruning and trimming is also essential to maintaining healthy laurel hedges - you can use shears to trim off any dead growth and keep your hedge shape in check. This will encourage new, healthier growth and help your hedge look its best all year round. Trimming the top while the hedge is established will also help to ensure an even density when your mature hedge grows. If your laurel hedge becomes overgrown, do not be scared to give it a hard cut back. Laurels will rejuvenate from a hard cutting or pruning and will come back good as new!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How far apart should you plant laurel plants?
A: Generally speaking, you should leave between 2 and 3 feet between each plant for an even, healthy hedge, however most people opt for a 2ft (60cm) spacing. This allows for enough space for the plants to receive adequate airflow and sunlight, while still giving you the dense and full effect that you are after.
Q: What type of mulch is best when planting laurels?
A: Make sure to use organic mulch, such as wood chips or manure - this will break down over time and release additional nutrients into the soil.
Q: How long does it take for a laurel hedge to grow?
A: The speed at which laurel plants grow will vary depending on a few factors, including the variety of plants you choose and the climate in which it is grown. Generally, common laurel grows the fastest, at around 30-60cm per year, and this is followed by Portuguese laurel, which has an average growth rate of 20-40cm per year.
Q: When is the best time of year to plant laurel hedging?
Container-grown plants, which are grown in pots, can be planted at any time throughout the year - remember that plants that are planted during the growing season (March to October) require more watering compared to those planted in late autumn, winter, or early spring.
Rootballed laurel plants can be planted between November and March, during the dormant season when it is safe for them to be dug from their growing fields.
Share Your Laurel Story
Laurel hedging is one of the most popular options when it comes to creating a beautiful evergreen hedge, and we would love to hear about your experiences. If you have planted a laurel hedge recently or have been maintaining one for some time, please share your story with us in the comments section below. Alternatively, feel free to get in touch and ask us any questions about how to care for your hedge - our experts are on hand to ensure that you grow the perfect hedge for your space!
Don’t forget to check out our range of guides on the best ways to care for your new hedge, including: