Three Yews

Re: Three Yews
I gotta little brick bungalow in the medwest these last 20 years, There are 3 yews in front, right under a picture window.
Lacking skill, knowledge, and a good hedge trimmer, I've neglected the yews for years. They are overgrown. The yew tops are about 10" above the bottom of the pic window. The front of the yews extend over the lawn blocking sun so the grass won't grow in part of the yard.
If I cut the yews down to their proper size, I'd be taking off maybe 99% of the needles. Someone said they'd grow back in about 3 years. Does this sound accurate?
Any cautions about drastically cutting back yews? My little B&D Hedge-mutha is not up to it: should I use a big hand-held hedge chopper? Rent a gas-powered trimmer?
Sorry to have to ask: I gotta "Black Thumb". <g>
Puddin'
******************************************************* *** Puddin' Man Pudding_Man at mail.com *** *******************************************************;
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I've whacked mine back a lot. The following yeard they looked OK. but not perfect. Now they are just fine. I used a chain saw for a few of the heavy branches, hand loppers for the rest.
I don't know what a gardener will tell you, but mine have survived my trimming. Ed
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"Edwin Pawlowski" wrote

Oh my!
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wrote:

Thanks, Ed. I 'spect I can get it done with hand loppers and maybe a back-saw.
To the other guys: you are right. It'd be best to rip out the old and plant new ('tho the old ain't *that* bad). Unfortunately, I got no chainsaw (not even loppers) and no $. What I do got is a funny back and some other health problems. :-(
Best, Puddin'

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A yew is a very inexpensive plant to buy at your local nursery. Grab the chainsaw out of the garage and cut the old ones down. To be honest, foundation plantings should be removed if they are old and too large anyway, and it sounds like yours are extremely overgrown. If you cut them back to a decent size, they probably would ultimatley recover, but they will never look very good again. Cut the old ones out and plant new plants and you'll be better off.
Puddin' Man wrote:

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I agree cut the old ones down and replace them. They will definitly survive the hack job but will take years to look full and healthy. You can get three new yews for $25 a piece or if you'd like but something a little fancier in. Nothing looks worse then overgrown shrubs in the front of a house. They are usually accompanied by foot long grass :-)
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Puddin' Man wrote:

This is common, but easy to remedy.

Yews have *tremendous* recovery from cut-back. But you should grab a book on gardening and read the part about pruning, first. Just randomly cutting back -- and taking away 99% of the needles -- could be fatal.
Think more in terms of removing about 1/3 of the growth this year, 1/3 next, until you have them looking the way you want. Believe me, that will be sufficient to get the front of your house looking so much better.
First, yews can grow needles even on bare wood, unless it is very old. Branches 1" across will certainly grow new needles, and within weeks. They will send out new shoots, but these take months to grow.
What you need to do is grab the tallest, gangliest, overhangiest yew branches and reach way back into the shrub and cut them back. You can do this by simply cutting off at a branching, or you can simply cut them back well into the shrub but where the branch isn't too thick for new growth. (There may be some needles showing. These places are always safe.)
Work your way around each shrub until they have a nice shape. Don't worry so much about reducing the size, that can come later.

Yews allegedly stand up well -- perhaps even best of all -- to hedge trimmers, because of the way they grow fresh needles and branches everywhere you cut. (Unlike deciduous hedges, which should be pruned for a natural look, unless you like dead branch stubs at the surface of your hedge. I guess a lot of people do.)
The yews in front of my parents' house used to be cut way back every year by this aged lady friend. She was eighty and she'd get in there with the loppers! They always came back. The key is making sure you cut the biggest branches back while leaving smaller ones that will create fresh growth in the space. If you are left with a blank space, trim the tips of the "hands" of needles, especially those pointing directly into the blank space, which will stimulate new growth.
Really, you almost can't damage yews *too* much, so theyr'e good to learn pruning on.
Meanwhile, under the yews you can plant a shade-loving groundcover like ajuga. It will provide a nice transition from the grass.
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Can't thank you enough for such useful info ...
On Sun, 22 Aug 2004 14:48:30 -0500, Dan Hartung

OK.
More details. The yews are in a bordered rock (gravel) garden about 15 ' x 4 ' with the back against the front wall of the house. The trunks exit the ground about 2 ' from each other.
I've trimmed new shoots for years and years. But the underlying bush has gotten larger. So its shape is OK, but its too hi and the front hangs outside the rock garden. All the needles are -very- near the surface (front, top, and sides).

And it's a good thing ('cause I don't really know what I'm doing <g>).
So far, my little strategy looks like:
1.) Wait 'till early spring (Mar.). 2.) Lop off 50-66% of the little needled branches with my tiny B&D Hedge-Mutha. 3.) Repeat 1.) and 2). in successive years.
Does this sound reasonable?

Directly under the yews? I guess I could rake the gravel out. Is ajuga very expensive?
I planted some Quality Shade (grass seed) under the yew overhang just outside the gravel in the spring. It did OK 'till the ground got good and dry: now it's mostly dead.
Thanks, Puddin'
******************************************************* *** Puddin' Man Pudding_Man at mail.com *** *******************************************************;
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On Sat, 28 Aug 2004 20:16:39 GMT, Pudding snipped-for-privacy@mail.com (Puddin' Man) wrote:

Your overall strategy is good, but you are pruning off the new life, not the old. This is not helping your yew. At this point, you should be working to leave as much of the new shoots as possible that would still leave a good shape, but prune off as much old growth to the branching intersections that the previous poster mentioned. You might have to drastically prune next spring to get rid of that brown dead growth (not more than half the shrub!), but that would be ok for a single year to get rid of the woodiest stuff.
Basically, you need to balance pruning out the old woody stuff with removing the new stuff that doesn't fit the shape.
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Puddin' Man wrote:

...walked into a bar...
--
Saluting America's #1 (animated) "MILF" - Lois Griffin!
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wrote:

Each one has a parrot on it's shoulder.
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Shouldn't that be branch?
Jon~
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--
"Light travels faster than sound;
This is why some people appear to be bright
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and the parrot sez: "That's O.K. I'm Catholic"?
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