Cutting out large Yew shrubs and replacing with smaller shrubs

ranger481vsMarch 13, 2012

I have several yew bushes along the front of my house that over 4ft tall x 4ft wide. These are old bushes that hiding too much of my house, so I'd like to get rid of them and plant smaller shrubs and other plants in their place. Completely removing the bushes, roots and all, would require some heavy machinery. I'm wondering if I could just cut them down to around 2ft or below ground level, then plant over those spots.

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MollyDog(6 PA)

I'm guessing there will be an estensive root system making it difficult to replant without removing the roots. Also, this would be an excellent time to amend your soil giving your new shrubs a rich growing environment,

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 5:20PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Just be aware there is a good chance the yews will resprout from a 2 foot stump. Cutting at ground level or below would lessen that chance.


    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 2:35AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

dig them out ...

remove everything.. but a bare 4 foot trunk .... you will need that for leverage ...

and then start digging about 3 foot out ..... it wont be easy ... the undisturbed soil will probably be very hard/compacted

and then just start cutting roots ... it wont be easy ..a sawzall helps.. and use the trunk to rock it back and forth to find roots as you continue to remove soil ... ... there will be one maddening large one.. going straight down ...

yes.. its very hard labor... but cheaper than paying for it ...

the lesson you should learn here is twofold ..

one those cute little babes get very big over the decades ... so on replanting.. plan accordingly ...

and second.. foundation planting are planted to hide the foundation.. NOT ON THE FOUNDATION ...

so when you go to replant.. think about a 6 foot wide bed .. and plant about 3 to 4 feet out.. leaving at least a 2 foot walkway behind for house maintenance .. window washing.. xmas lights.. painting.. washing siding.. etc ...

good luck


ps: yes you could cut them to the ground.. and apply roundup.. but you will still have to do the digging.. once you try to replant there ... so may as well do it right in the first place ...

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 9:34AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Alternatively you could cut down the yews and then make sure they are kept trimmed to a height you like and plant something else in front. Digging out them out is the only way to get rid of them completely. Yew is well known for its ability to sprout from stumps. That's why it makes such good hedges and topiary which can withstand several hundred years of trimming.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 1:37PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hey flora.. this aint GBritian.. lol ...

here is what i am seeing in my minds eye ...

late 50's early 60's suburban ranch ..

builder buys and plant one gallon plants.. one foot from the foundation ..

fast forward 40 or 50 years.. and this things is working its way to the gutters on the second floor..

been there ... lived that.. dug them out.. lol


Here is a link that might be useful: something like this.. but i didnt live in vine land .. lol ..

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 4:20PM
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Yeah, these are 36 yrs old. Luckily, they are planted about four ft from the house. Digging them out would fall pretty on my priority list of projects this year. So, I think I'll just trim a good chunk of them down and see what happens. Maybe do another significant trim down in fall too. Thanks for the replies.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 7:18PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

Yeah, these are 36 yrs old. Luckily, they are planted about four ft from the house.

===>> yeah.. except in 36 years.. they are a 10 foot wide plant.. lol ... browning and dieing on the house side.. nearly bare.. and reaching 6 feet into the lawn.. or what is left of the lawn under them ....

AM I RIGHT.. lol ...

good luck

short of heavy equipment.. its just exercise ... you can do it ..


    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 10:44AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

btw.. i had a friend pull the bumper off his rusty old truck... trying to yank something like this out..

try to avoid that.. lol


    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 5:49PM
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I had a front foundation yew that was about 4-6 years old (from the previous owners) transplanted to the rear. In another 4 to 6 years, I removed it from that location. It was difficult, but do-able, and surprisingly satisfying. And Ken's description of the process is dead-on.

However,if its been there 36 years, the roots must be extensive. I would shoot for a compromise. I would dig out a lot of it, and use roundup or brush killer on the cut ends remaining.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 9:42PM
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Been there, done that. 2 large cedar and 2 large yews. I feel as I belong in this thread.
If you do it also get a good digging and long pry bar. Whatever it costs it will be with it. If you have a come along and some chokers all the better. Get some good blades for your sawzall too.
Well, now you have something to do this week. Have fun.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 1:31PM
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