Otto Luyken Laurel as foundation planting - how far from house?

lawhoo(7)May 5, 2014

I'm embarking on the lengthy (probably 1- to 2-year) process of implementing a planting plan for our home. The first stage is our the front, beginning with the foundation planting of Otto Luyken Laurels. My main foundation planting bed (between the house and our front walkway) is about 14 ft wide and 9 ft deep. I'll be planting three of the shrubs there (along with another three on the other side of our front stoop). I've had it suggested that I plant so as to leave a couple of feet accessible behind the shrubs, for future maintenance. Obviously, they'll grow, but I would expect to do occasional pruning to keep them at about 3 ft high but with a fairly natural, somewhat mounded look. The idea of keeping access in the back makes sense to me, but I'm wondering how far out from the house I should plant the shrubs.

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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Otto Luykens grow naturally a bit wider than tall. I have mature ones in front of my house and I'm hard pressed to keep them trimmed to about 5 feet wide without major pruning several times a year.

So, I would plant them at least six feet from the house (center of plant).

I know it seems like a lot, especially if you are planting small plants. But once they grow large, it will be harder to move them further away from the house! You'll be glad you did. Also, it will keep them out from under eaves so they can get regular moisture from your rains.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:12AM
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Thanks. I assume from your username that you're in Northern Virginia, as am I. Did you plant your shrubs or inherit them? I'm wondering whether they're easier to keep at a somewhat smaller size if they're "trained" that way from first planting.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:31AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

the link shows how i do it ...

looks like it could easily be a 6 foot ball of fun ...

but then i would add 'rejuvenation pruning' to the search.. and see if it can be properly pruned to a certain size ...

but one thing for sure.. never give it a haircut .... thats just not how to do it ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 12:09PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Grows above head height in time - there will be a lot of snipping to keep it at 3 ft.

Sounds like too much work, plus the natural habit will soon start to disappear if you have to keep cutting at it.

With its upright branching mature plant is not a mound, more like a wall. The mounding one is 'Mount Vernon'.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 1:03PM
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I'm confused about the ultimate height. According to what I've read T&E.g.,, Otto Luyken Laurels grow to 3 ft high and 6 ft wide. I understand the need for pruning (selectively, not a haircut) to manage the width, but I thought the height would not be an issue.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 1:42PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Heights given for shrubs are always a general representation, often based on a particular time frame like 10 years. No shrub or tree grows to a certain height and then remains frozen at that height ("tops out") while still maintaining the same appearance it had up to that point. In my area 'Otto Luyken' more than 3 ft. tall are not hard to find.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 1:39AM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA


I inherited them, but I have also planted new ones. They are easier to 'slow down' when you plant small ones and keep up with the pruning.

Honestly, the best way to prune when they get larger is with a power shears. I know that you'll be cutting many of the leaves in half this way, but really, they don't mind.

I have seen a 5-foot hedge of Otto Luyken, so yes, they can get quite tall, especially if you prune them up the sides.

In your case, once they get established, you'll probably need to prune several times during the growing season. They are probably the most common and popular plant for your purpose.

Other lower mounding shrub options that would not require as much maintenance would include:

Carissa holly, some of the Boxwoods, Dwarf Burford holly, 'Hoogendorn' holly, 'Soft Touch' holly, 'Chinzan azaleas', Gumpo azaleas. These will be more in the two foot range over time (although Burford can get larger).

Slightly taller, but easy to maintain include: some of the Pieris cultivars, Chinese holly (I. crenata), some of the Blue hollies (x meserveae), Viburnum x 'Conoy', Osmanthus x 'Burkwoodii'.

The Chinzan looks better with just a bit of afternoon winter shade.

All of the selections would have to be evaluated based upon the amount of sun and wind you have in that space.

This post was edited by dave_in_nova on Tue, May 6, 14 at 9:54

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 9:12AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I have planted quite a few here and they all get shot hole fungus. As I don't want to spray, they generally are unattractive and not a shrub I would ever choose to plant again. On the plus side, they have no other issues and are easy to manage. They also produce babies occasionally and I have dug those up to get more shrubs.
The fungus, however, is serious and for the that, I would not use these as foundation plants, only somewhere where they are not observed close up.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 10:06AM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Here in zone 7A Northern Virginia, shothole is not all that much of a problem for Otto Luyken. 'Mount Vernon' does seem more susceptible though.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 12:29PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Shot hole is highly prevalent on it here also. The resulting appearance makes me think the name should be changed to shot gun fungus.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 4:38PM
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Hello. I recently planted 3 otto luyken laurels and within a week or so I noticed a number of leaves (randomly scattered about) had turned or were starting to turn yellow. Since it happened so quickly after planting, could it be over/underwatering or simply stress from having recently been planted? If it were a deficiency of some sort, wouldn't it take a bit longer to affect the plant. Overall, the plants are pretty green but every day I'm picking off several yellow leaves and it has me concerned that before long, I may wind up with a bare otto luyken! Thanks for any suggestions.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 4:07PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

' could it be over/underwatering or simply stress from having recently been planted?'

Yes, could be any of the above. It's a bit late in the season to plant these now. Are they in full sun? You'll need to really keep up with watering them as the hot weather is setting in. They will take a year or two to get established. They establish more easily if you plant them in April or September.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 8:16AM
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Gardenia radicals stays low in zone 7 NC. It needs acidic soil, so place it not too close to a concrete foundation. Plant early enough to get well established before it's first winter, and mulch well in the fall. Make sure it's a gardenia Radicans, other gardenias are much more fussy.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 10:39AM
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I had planted them the first week in June. I am a novice at best in terms of gardening. I now realize it's always best to plant in the spring or fall and will surely do so with future plantings. It's killing me to see my plants look so sad :( If it is in fact stress, is there anything I can do to give it a boost and help it out? Would feeding it shrub food (Bayer?) or anything else help?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 3:47PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Stress could have occurred at the store where you bought them (from underwatering) and they're only now showing it.

Or it could be occurring in your soil. You need to poke your finger down into the rootball to see if it's dry or moist.

I don't think fertilizing will help them until they get established.

But these are pretty tough plants. Just mulch them well and check moisture in rootball.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 3:53PM
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Btw, I forgot to mention that these are not planted in full sun (which I just saw you had asked in a previous post.) I'll continue to monitor the soil which, last I checked, seemed to be moist, but not overly so. I know you said that feeding it might not help at this point, but could it hurt?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 4:17PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

I have found Otto to be very slow growing in my garden here in northern VA, so you probably won't have to worry too much for quite a few years. Mine are n partial shade/shade.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 3:38PM
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