Skip Laurel Dying Year Old Hedge
Hi - Unfortunately, it looks like your laurels did not get established well in their first year after being planted. This may have occurred if they were container plants that were set into the planting hole without having their roots spread out. If the roots were encircling the inside of the container and not teased out, they tend to stay crowded in the original root ball and don't grow into the surrounding soil. With poor root establishment, the plants cannot take up the water they need. You can try digging up the plants and check the root system. If you can pull them up and the root ball still resembles the shape of the original container, that is a problem. If you still see some healthy roots (white, fleshy, plump --not brown/black/withered) there is a chance you might get them to recover. Please read our information about the planting process for shrubs/trees and watch our video on planting a container-grown tree (it's the same process for a shrub). https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/planting-process
Newly established plants also need regular watering during their first 12-18 months or so, to help the roots get established. You should check the soil moisture at least once each week. https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/after-planting-care
Here is more information on watering new plantings.
You can prune out the brown/dead leaves and stems at any time during dry weather.