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Timing a semi-major yew hack back.
#85962 January 17th, 2007 at 07:16 AM
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I have, in front of my house, on the north side, about 16-20 feet of yew bushes. There is about 8-10 feet of bush on either side of my front door, each section consisting of 3 or 4 individual trunk sections, and all about 4-6 feet tall and 1-4 feet deep. I have two big sets of windows over the bushes respectfully, and as it stands right now the bushes are taller than the bottoms of the wondows.

My intentions are to cut the tops of the bushes off so they are level with the window bottoms, but I'm not sure how they'll do if I try it, and I don't have the money right now to replace them if it doesn't go well.

Realistically, I wouldn't be cutting more than about a quarter to a third of the tops off, so I think I'm ok there other than the bushes looking kinda dumb for a year or so.

My biggest question is: is there a good time to be doing this? Now, when they are mostly dormant or should I wait until the spring when they are in full growth mode?

I know they will re-bud and grow on old growth, so I think they'll be good to go as far as re-greening at the top but maybe there are other aspects I should be worried about?

Anyone have any experience or words of wisdom to share?

Thanks a bunch!

Re: Timing a semi-major yew hack back.
#85963 January 22nd, 2007 at 10:35 PM
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No one huh? Ok... I just take a guess and hope for the best!

Re: Timing a semi-major yew hack back.
#85964 January 25th, 2007 at 01:51 PM
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Aighead,
I found some info at iVillageGarden web under their Shrubs section. Look on page 16, "Pruning of yew trees;" page 26, "Need help pruning a yew;" and page 34, "Pruning overgrown yew." You don't have to be a member of this site to look at their questions and answers. Good luck.

Re: Timing a semi-major yew hack back.
#85965 January 26th, 2007 at 04:46 PM
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You do not want to do such a drastic prune to a yew plant. Doing so will create a hole which will take for ever to grow back in if it ever does. You can only prune back 2 years worth of growth on this type of plant. Late fall is the best time for doing pruning on an evergreen, but mid winter is okay as well. You don't want to do it in the spring time when the plant is heavy with sap, or during the warmer months when insects could vector diseases into the open wounds.
Sorry I wish I had better news for you

Mike

Re: Timing a semi-major yew hack back.
#85966 January 27th, 2007 at 02:14 AM
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Thanks folks! That is helpful! plant Doc, do you think it's a situation where I could slowly cut them back, maybe only do a quarter of my initial plan per year?

Thanks again!

Re: Timing a semi-major yew hack back.
#85967 February 1st, 2007 at 04:58 PM
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It would be handy if you can do it in stages, but sometimes that looks odd.

Is it one of the narrow ones like Irish Yew?

Anyhow, the good news is that Yew is one of few conifers that makes new buds from bare wood after its stubbed by cutting.

As long as you do not cut-back the sides at the same time that you reduce the top, I'd bet on success.

What you do not want to do, is cut off top growth just before summer heat, or you will get sunburn. That's the usual cause of failrure.

You need to cut off the growth between now, and probably mid-March. That way the plant will develop new buds and growth as the sun slowly intensifies over the following weeks and months. And what's not shaded with new growth yet, will acclimatize.

The worst scenario, is cutting the top off in July or August - near certain tissue damage from sunburn.

Re: Timing a semi-major yew hack back.
#85968 February 6th, 2007 at 12:05 AM
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MD, I was thinking along those lines as well, thanks for your input! I'm not sure what you mean by narrow... Do you mean leaf size or the actual bush?

Are you suggesting that I cut back very slowly in several stages from now until mid March? Or as long as I do it between now and then I should be ok to do it in one sitting?

Re: Timing a semi-major yew hack back.
#85969 February 6th, 2007 at 03:53 AM
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Narrow as in the whole bush.

Irish yew grow a bit like columns, whereas the forest ones are wider and spreading. There are various kinds.

Personlly, seeing how well most have recovered, I'd do it all in one shot if it were mine.

But try to avoid needing such serious cut-backs in the future, by light yearly maintenance pruning.

Re: Timing a semi-major yew hack back.
#85970 February 7th, 2007 at 04:32 PM
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No, these are pretty big, not narrow at all, and unfortunately were big when I bought the house, thus the need to do a major cutback. Thanks again for your help!

Re: Timing a semi-major yew hack back.
#85971 February 7th, 2007 at 05:15 PM
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aighead,

Hack at em! They will grow back nice and are impossible to kill. I have done mine in spring to early summer. We had overgrown blocky things on the property, and I chopped them back to just the main thick branches. Yes it does take a few years, but they look much better than the overgrown ones.

[Linked Image]


Here's some right afterwards. They used to halfway cover the windows, and came forward about 3 feet. They are filled in now, it took about 2 years but in my opinion they are MUCH improved.

Re: Timing a semi-major yew hack back.
#85972 February 13th, 2007 at 02:52 PM
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I had the power company kindly contract out a company that came while I was gone& they hacked my 10-15 ft ones down to fence level.....4 ft.They actually DO look better now& now are right back where they we're originally(3 yrs now) But I was MAD as hell when they did it. I also still think was useless of them....I don't see how they hinder power line repairs.they we're on the EDGE of their 10 ft 'rightaway' & I KNOW The oak tree they cut on while dropping limbs on my rosebushes was out of their 10 ft range as its 17 ft FROM the line.

I agree with asparagus............they will be improved.They look fuller now,but are also right where they we're 3 years ago.I've actually thought of trimming a few.....but in a flat verticle one sided haircut.And I'll be ready for the power company when they do that crap again in 2 years. I got my yard certified as my birdlife/butterfly habitat. laugh and have birdnests stored in shed for placement.I just love loopholes.

Re: Timing a semi-major yew hack back.
#85973 February 13th, 2007 at 10:21 PM
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We had to remove the top half of two spreading yews for window replacement. They were sparse in the middle the first year but filled in nicely the second year. Am guessing they were close to 5 ft. high and 4 ft. wide.

When you prune, keep the top of the bush narrower than the bottom so sun gets to the bottom branches.

Re: Timing a semi-major yew hack back.
#85974 March 7th, 2007 at 05:33 AM
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Thanks everyone! I didn't see these messages a while ago it seems... It also seems that I need to get busy cutting!

Re: Timing a semi-major yew hack back.
#85975 March 12th, 2007 at 05:18 AM
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Done and done. Now the waiting game begins, I can actually see some of the front of my house, and it should be easier to paint some windows this spring. I don't think I ended up taking off as much as I thought I would. Thanks for everyone's help! Next year will be the front of the bushes!

Ooh! I'm also going to attempt a yew cutting to make into a bonsai!


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