All hedges whether they are conifers, laurels (or for that matter privet, beech, yew or box) require to be looked after in a proper manner, and that means clipping them annually. This is no great hardship since you need to mow your lawn probably once every three weeks! If you are not going to look after your hedge, don’t bother to plant it!
Don’t be put off by talk of clipping conifers more than once a year to keep them in good order that is simply scaremongering. It is much more important to choose the correct time to clip them and then they will always look good.
Clip your conifer hedges from mid August to mid September. We always try to clip our substantial hedges over August bank holiday which is a lot more rewarding than going to the seaside! It is not sensible to clip if there is a heat wave as the sun can scorch newly cut growth. They too need to acclimatise to the sun if you take their shirt off!!
You can clip in Oct/Nov but remember that there will be more growth by then and so there will be more clippings to clear up afterwards. Even more so in March/April! No point in making work for yourself!
Use a good quality hedge cutter and you can roar along a Conifer hedge in no time at all. Always work from the bottom upwards and make sure that the top is not quite as wide at the bottom. If it’s fatter at the top (Like Bart Simpson’s hair cut!) it will tend to go bare at the bottom in time. Cut the top last and remember to remove the clippings from the top of the hedge after cutting. Leaving them to rot on the top of the hedge will do it no good at all.
I personally think that it adds a finishing touch to bevel the top edges off as the last thing to do.
Laurels are best clipped in March/April before new growth starts. There is a lot of talk about how you should not clip Laurel with hedge clippers. That’s fine in you have the time and want a sore wrist from using secateurs. I don’t want either and I am also convinced that this is advice given by those that don’t do the clipping!