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Yellowing laurel from lack of water

As we pass into late spring, everything is growing vigorously. We would strongly advise to check newly planted trees and shrubs for water stress now that they have fully come out of dormancy. Beware of dry spells but also be aware that roots need to breathe so too much water (waterlogging) will do as much harm as not enough. Water stress can be particularly noticeable on newly planted laurels. The picture above shows how it is usually the older leaves that yellow first through water stress. But in spring this may coincide with the usual shedding of the oldest leaves anyway.

It is necessary to carry out a regular watering regime for the first two years. At this time of year I would recommend watering as follows:-

  • Our big shrubs  – 4 litres  (1 gallon or ½ a large watering can) every 2 to 3 days.
  • Our trees and instant laurel hedging – 9 litres (2 gallons or 1 large watering can) every 2 to 3 days.
  • Our very big trees – 18 litres (4 gallons or 2 large watering cans) every 2 to 3 days.

However, in particularly hot, dry, sunny and/or windy weather you may need to increase the frequency further, or reduce it in a period of wet weather. Also alter the amounts accordingly depending on the conditions on site as poorly-drained sites. Those on heavy clay will need less watering than those on sandy soils.

Plants usually give you fair warning that they are stressed before they die by turning older leaves yellow and then dropping them. In severe drought the soft new growth wilts and shrivels!

If you have a soaker hose fitted on an outside timer make sure it is switched on for at least 20 minutes a day (sandier soils may require more).

A lot of plants, in particular laurels, can look hungry in the spring. This is indicated by the plant yellowing. We would advise an immediate feed with a high nitrogen fertiliser and with a follow up treatment at the end of June or early July.

Need specific advice? Just ask!

If in doubt or if you have any queries please do not hesitate to get in touch. We’d be delighted to offer our suggestions for your needs and site conditions. Simply contact us at or call 01723 862406.

24 April 2020