Rogue Valley Gardener recommends pruning an English laurel in early to mid-spring to encourage new growth. For mature English laurels that require control to prevent overgrowth, prune in the spring and again in the mid-summer to prevent the bush from putting out more new growth. To keep an English laurel simply looking even, prune the bush back by trimming long stems at the top of the bush.
If the goal is to create a less-dense English laurel, Rogue Valley Gardener suggests trimming the longest spikes down to the ground each growing season. This type of trim helps open up the bush and allows for the most air circulation. However, it creates a less private screen.
For a complete pruning aimed at removing a large amount of height or width, use a hedge trimmer to remove branches uniformly across the English laurel, according to the Rogue Valley Gardener. Regardless of whether a tall or short bush is preferred, it is suggested that some of the interior branches of the laurel are removed during each pruning to promote circulation and prevent disease and pests. Pruning styles for an English laurel are typically based on personal preference for the shape and size of the bush and its ability to fit a particular space.