Laurel bushes are a type of hedging that — like all hedges — requires regular pruning and maintenance to keep it in pristine condition. When a laurel is first planted, it must be left to grow for quite some time before it requires pruning. Once the bush has established itself, it will require trimming.
Cut a branch in the area where you would like to see new growth. You can stimulate growth in a particularly thin area of the bush by trimming a branch down so only two or three leaves remain. Within a few weeks, new shoots will sprout from each leaf on that side.
Continue trimming branches in areas that you would like to thicken until the branch structure carries a good canopy of leaves. This is important to develop the shape of a new laurel bush.
Cut back individual branches as part of your regular maintenance, once the bush has developed a good branch structure. Use secateurs to complete this pruning, as larger shears can damage the leaves.
Prune the laurel so that it forms an "A" shape, with the base wider than the bottom. This will stimulate good airflow throughout the bush and help light reach the bottom branches.
Complete any large pruning sessions in the winter, such as trimming the height of the bush, or completely altering the laurel's shape.