Is English Laurel safe to chi?

Asked September 23, 2020, 2:46 PM EDT

Hello, We have an overgrown laurel hedge that we would like to severely cut back. We are thinking of chipping it all once its down; leaves and all, and spread it on landscaped areas of the yard. Is this safe for other plants? We would like to do it soon (early October). Is that ill-advised? thanks so much, Margaret

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

Hi Margaret:

Don't those laurel hedges just get out of hand??

I would do exactly what you're suggesting and early October is a fine time.

The prussic acid, so toxic to humans (who would ever try eating laurel?) depends on the acid environment of the stomach to do its dirty work. Applied as a mulch under other shrubs, the leaves, stems and all their components - including prussic acid - will break down over time.
  • I wouldn't use it as a path mulching material unless your chipper is really sharp - I suspect any whole leaves could be slippery.
  • The prussic will not acidify the soil.
I love filling wheel barrows and moving things around the yard. I envy you this project. Which just proves, once again, that it takes all kinds. :)