Bay Bush Maintenance

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Good afternoon.

I have 2 Bay bushes in my garden. They get in the way and are a hazardous burden to trim every year. I don't want to destroy them as they are decades old so would be a shame.

I would like to reduce Thier size significantly (width and height). AFAICS the inner 80% of their width diameter is brown twigs and branches so if I were to trim them to 50% of thier width then they would create an eye saw.

What are my options please? If I did the above then how long would it take for them to become leafy again?

I am considering removing all branches on the lowest 8' thus leaving a bare vertical trunk with the upper section trimmed as spherical as possible. This would make it look more like a typical Bay Tree and the hope would be that the bare trunk would sprout new growth and I would end up with a thin leafy bush approx 3' wide and could then chop off the upper spherical section. Would this happen? Is so how long would it take?

PSA picture. The one on the right is approx 18' but varies between 20 and 16 before and after cutting.

Thanks in advance.
IMG_20240317_181257.jpg (4.86 MiB) Viewed 2850 times
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Evening Wurzel and a warm welcome to the forum….

A bit of a tricky question…..Bay trees can be pruned back hard but, in an ideal world this should be done over several seasons!
It surprising how much you can take off in one go, without leaving the Bay tree looking to bare….so I think I would try this first!
Kind Regards, Old Herbaceous.

There's no fool like an old fool.
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I would definitely lift the crown up, as you describe, my parents had a similar tree, cutting out a lot of light, and it made a huge difference. You could maybe remove some branches to thin out the remaining top section and a lighter prune this year, and then take it back a bit more next year?
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Thanks for the suggestions
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