Pruning yews -one more time, please !

gardeningannie(06)February 5, 2013

Greetings. I have 6 large hicksii yews (3 on either side of my front double doors). They are 15 years old and stayed medium sized until we took a tree out 3 years ago and they started getting more sun and moisture. Now with a better environment and lots of good organic care, they have literally double in size ~ and now they're too big !

Because I see clients in my home and they come through the front entrance, I always keep the lawn and flowerbeds in pristine condition, so heavy pruning 'back to a nub' in out of the question as is removing them altogether.

They are basically quite healthy and full with only one having considerably less center fullness. My intention is to prune out 1/4 - 1/3 of the unwanted fulness in March, but can't seem to find the answer to my biggest problem which is this:

WHEN PRUNING YEWS IS IT IMPORTANT TO PRUNE THE BRANCHES on AN ANGLE LIKE YOU WOULD TREES OR ROSES SO THE NEW GROWTH DEVELOPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AND IF SO, WHAT ANGLE ??? In other words, I want to stimulate new branches that will grow from the center out and not just randomly this way and that.

I have watched several youtube pruning videos, read every article and book I can find including old gardenweb posts, but can't seem to find the answer to this specific issue.

Thanks in advance ! annie

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

wouldnt you want to do it.. BEFORE new growth begins.. so that your guiding cuts will start the filling in process ...

yews are conifers.. there is a such a forum ... and a lot of those peeps do NOT hang here.. i figure cover all your bases in the quest for knowledge ...

conifers have different pruning rules that flowering shrubs.. so part of your problem is your choice of words ... 'shrub' is a common term.. and the rules vary widely until you define the specific plant ...

with your need for a pristine look ... i just dont know what to tell you without a picture .... worse you can do is mangle them so bad.. that removal comes to the forefront.. and i am thinking .. you might want to take that leap ... but that is for the future ... i would definitely start on the least conspicuous one ...

do not forget.. you could take one on either side.. perhaps the ones closest to the porch/walkway .. to free up some space.. i dont know.. because i cant see it ...

many conifers do NOT have dormant buds.. and if you cut to bare branches .. that branch will die.. i dont have yews.. in my 500 conifer collection.. so hopefully others will chime in in that regard ... if so.. you would need to prune back but leave green to grow ... and by doing that.. and this springs growth.. one would hope you avoid the ugly gaping holes and brown sticks ...

pix please


    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 8:47AM
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Ken ~ thanks for clarity on the shrubs vs. conifer forums ~ makes sense and will post there. Am planning on pruning while still dormant which will be up until late February to mid March. Come on Spring !

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 11:40AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

its not a forum issue.. you post wherever you want.. i am not in charge...

its just about getting opinion from peeps who might not come here ..

but the words are important.. if you are loading them into a search engine.. trying to narrow the info you get.. to that which is relevant..

good luck .. as i said.. dont do them all at once.. just in case you dont like the result .. as i tell the kids.. you cant staple the branches back on ...


ps: we are presuming the yew ID is correct ... if you are guessing.. it can be ID'd with a pic.. in the conifer forum ... if not here .. you never know where brilliant insight is going to pop up.. and poke you in the eye ....

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 1:58PM
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Ken ~ you're so right. Have already figured out it's not hicksii, but densiformis. Since they aren't completey out of hand and are strong and healthy, I'm thinking of just removing here and there and see how it goes. Thanks again ! annie

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 3:39PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

ken -just fyi yew is about the only conifer I can think of which can be cut to stumps and regenerate. Does it no harm at all apart from looking a bit peeky for a while. This propensity is what makes them so good for topiary and hedges.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cutting back yew

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 4:20PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

I have yews. Never heard the angle cut thing before. Where did you read that? Dormant buds could be anywhere along the branch and the angle of the cut wont trigger them to grow, the sun does that. Trying to do thinning cuts ("to prune out 1/4 - 1/3 of the unwanted fulness") may prove daunting as branches always seem to be filling in more of the "outer shell" than you may think tracing them back but it should be worth a shot. March for me is the best time for hard pruning a yew like you're about to do, so for your zone 6 you could start in a couple of weeks.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 7:24PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i thought so flora/junkie .. but wasnt sure.. thx for chiming in ...

so its down to how artful you can be..


    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 8:07PM
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Hahaha ~ and I'm feeling a bit of Monet coming on ! Can't wait to get started on this project, cutting away only what's really in the way at this point and then seeing how they come back. Thanks for all the help, guys.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 8:29PM
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