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How To Easily Dispose of a Cherry Laurel Plant

How To Easily Dispose of a Cherry Laurel Plant

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Proper disposal is crucial to a garden’s health and visual appeal, whether you’re pruning branches or disposing of scale-infested cherry laurel.

There are three main methods for getting rid of cherry laurel waste: bagging it and throwing it away, burning it, and composting the leaves. The method that suits a situation best depends on your reason for getting rid of the plant and the resources you have access to. 

Let’s explore the proper methods to dispose of cherry laurel plants with minimal mess and hassle. 

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1. Consider Why You’re Disposing of Your Cherry Laurel

Several factors may cause someone to want to get rid of a plant, be it a few branches or an entire shrub. Identifying why you want to dispose of them is the first step in disposing of them correctly. 

  • Pruning. Pruning branches and leaves for aesthetic or growth purposes provides the chance to grind up laurel leaves for compost. The branches cannot be used similarly and should be bagged or burned. 
  • Infestation. If a pest infestation gets so bad that you need to get rid of a laurel, you should burn it, so it doesn’t infect other plants. 

Getting rid of organic waste, such as dead tree matter, is straightforward and has minimal environmental impact if done correctly. This is especially poignant for dealing with poisonous cherry laurel offcuts. 

For example, using infected laurels as compost poses risk to the rest of the plant life in your garden and will likely spread the disease or pest into the soil and surrounding vegetation. 

However, simply bagging plant matter and leaving it in a landfill can release methane gas into the atmosphere, worsening climate change. 

2. Prep Yourself and Your Plant for Disposal

Preparing to dispose of plant matter doesn’t just mean putting on some shoes and hacking away with a hedge trimmer. Good preparation ensures a quick, efficient, and safe disposal process. 

Continue reading for a description of each process and what equipment is needed for each disposal method. 

Pruning

Pruning a cherry laurel removes old leaves and stimulates new growth, particularly in the spring after the laurel first flowers. Pruning should be a bi-annual occurrence. 

The process of pruning is low-effort if done routinely, so don’t let the laurel get too out of control. A pruned plant also looks more attractive, so pruning twice a year keeps your garden neat and tidy (source). 

Disposing of Pruned Leaves

Once you’ve pruned a laurel, it’s time to discard the plant matter. While composting is a greener choice, branches aren’t suited to composting and must be disposed of in a landfill

You’ll need:

  • Gardening gloves to bypass the laurel’s poison.
  • Trash or recycling bags.

Composting Pruned Leaves

Composting takes a little more time and effort, but it’s the most eco-friendly way to dispose of plant matter. Note that you cannot compost cherry laurel branches, only the leaves.

You’ll need: 

  • A plastic sheet.
  • A rubbish or compost bin.
  • Nitrogen-rich organic material, such as manure or horn shavings.

Infestation

The best thing you can do for an invested plant with no hope of revival is to burn it. This is the most foolproof way to ensure no other vegetation in your garden will suffer from pest infestations, and the soil will remain uncontaminated. 

However, sometimes this isn’t possible due to local laws surrounding making fires on private or public property. In that case, disposing of the infected laurel is the best bet. 

Burning Cherry Laurel

Familiarizing yourself with local laws regarding making fires on your own property is imperative. Burning anything within a certain radius of other houses may be illegal, particularly if the smoke becomes thick and is potentially toxic. 

Ensure the burn area is clear of material that could spread the fire beyond the drum. 

You’ll need:

  • A metal drum.
  • Firelighters or tinder.
  • Matches.
  • A bucket of water or a hose.

Disposing of an Infested Cherry Laurel

Not everyone has the resources or ability to burn infected laurel branches and leaves, so a landfill is their only option. This can be just as simple, if not more.

You’ll need: 

  • Gloves.
  • Rubbish bags.

3. Dispose of the Cherry Laurel Plant

Now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the methods used to quickly and safely dispose of cherry laurel plant matter. This section will detail how to bag up or burn the mess and where to lay it to rest. 

Pruning

The simplest way to get rid of unwanted plant matter is just to bag it and take it to a landfill. This method is many people’s only option, but unfortunately, plant matter left to decompose this way releases methane gas (source). 

Disposing of Pruned Leaves

Throwing leaves away is simple, just bag them up and throw them in the bin. If they’re healthy and not infected with pests of disease, they can even go into your regular household bin. 

  1. Gather the offcuts. Wearing gloves to avoid contact with any of the laurel’s poison, gather all the pruned plant matter together. 
  2. Get a bag. Choose a large, sturdy bag to put the plant matter in. Ensure it’s thick enough to avoid branches breaking through. 
  3. Seal and remove. Make sure the bag is tightly closed or tied, and place it in a bin to take to a dump later (source).  

Composting Pruned Leaves

Composting is a long-term project that takes patience and a fair amount of research. However, it’s gratifying for you and your garden, considering all the environmental benefits and the nourishment the organic material provides to plant life. 

  1. Grind the leaves. Remove the leaves and grind them on a plastic sheet. Use rocks, lawnmowers, or any tool that does the job. 
  2. Place them in a compost bin. Find a shady spot for a compost bin, and stack layers of leaves upon 20cm thick layers of organic matter. 
  3. Maintenance. Keep the material moist and aerated, turning it over after six months. You should have usable compost after two to three years. 

Infestation

If an infestation gets out of hand, there’s no choice but to chuck the infected plant and start over. Act on an infestation as fast as possible to avoid it spreading into the soil, other plants in your garden, and even indoor plants. 

Burning Cherry Laurel

To burn cherry laurel, purchase a metal drum explicitly made for burning. These have holes in the base, allowing water to flow through when the burnt material is doused in water. These also come accompanied by a lid, keeping smoke to a minimum

  1. Place the laurel pieces in the drum. Using gloves, place all of the infected laurel limbs into the drum, preferably away from other foliage and flammable organic material like dried sticks and leaves. 
  2. Light the fire. Using matches or a lighter and combustible material like firelighters, start the fire up. Try to incinerate the material quickly, and keep the lid closed until the laurel has burnt completely. 
  3. Douse the flames. Once the plants and pests have disintegrated, douse the remaining flames and hot ash with water. Keep water close by at all times when making a fire in case of an emergency (source).

See Should We Burn Yard Waste? Brush Burning Safety & Alternatives.

Disposing of an Infested Cherry Laurel

Sometimes, all that’s on your mind is getting rid of the infested plant as fast as possible. In this case, skip the fire and go straight to the more traditional form of disposal. 

  • Bag the laurel. Away from other plants, bag the laurel in a thick, sturdy trash bag. Seal it immediately by tying it tightly and ensuring there aren’t any holes in the bag. 
  • Remove the bag. Take the bagged waste to a bin, preferably an outside bin used for gardening, and throw the bag in. Close the bin’s lid so the pests can’t escape. 
  • Take it to a landfill. Either before or after placing the bag in a bin, make sure the waste goes to a landfill or dump. 

Key Takeaways

Of the three methods put forward here, disposing of plant material in a landfill is the simplest option. However, burning is more efficient and the best way to get rid of pests. Finally, composting is the most environmentally friendly, though not always possible. 

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Willie Moore
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