The bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) belongs to the family Lauraceae. The common name for bay laurel trees is sweet bay because their crushed leaves emit a sweet odor. The leaves are widely used for culinary purposes. Bay laurels are large trees at maturity, reaching a height of 40 feet and a width of 32 feet. Planting and growing a bay laurel will not be difficult, providing you give it proper space to spread out. They make fine specimen or background trees, blending into the landscape.
Locate an area in your landscape that receives at least six hours of sunlight each day to plant the bay tree. Bay trees will tolerate partial-sun conditions, but prefer growing in full sun.
Select an area that will be large enough for the bay tree to reach maturity and not interfere with structures. Consider it needs planting in a sheltered spot for protection from winds and cold weather, if planted in areas prone to frosts. Its shallow root system makes bay trees more susceptible to damage from cold weather.
Plant the bay tree in soil that has good drainage. Amend the existing soil with compost to make it rich. Work the compost 1 foot into the soil, loosening up the surrounding area as you do so.
Trim off bent or broken roots from the bay tree's root ball, if the tree was contained in burlap. Trees grown in containers should not need trimming because there roots are protected.
Dig a hole that is three times larger, but no deeper, than the bay tree's root ball. Situate the tree inside of the hole facing the most pleasing direction. Halfway fill the hole with soil and stomp on the area. Continue filling the hole with soil and finish by stomping on it again.
Lay mulch 3 feet in diameter around the base of the tree to keep the planting site moist, to protect the roots in cold weather and to cut down on the growth of weeds.
Water the newly planted bay tree well, making sure the water reaches deep within the soil. Continue watering the tree twice per week for the first three weeks. Once the tree establishes itself, continue watering once per week, depending on your weather conditions. Bay trees are quite drought tolerant once established.
Fertilize bay trees in spring and late summer with a high quality 10-10-10 granular fertilizer. Do not allow the fertilizer to butt against the tree's trunk and water in well once applied.