Need help pruning a yew!
I have some hideously ugly yews planted in front of my house along the foundation. I'm not sure what kind they are exactly but they are maybe 4 feet tall and several feet wide. The growth mainly starts a foot or so off the ground. They suffered terribly from last year's drought. The insides are very dry and brown.
The previous owners trimmed them into a square shape, which I think looks horrible in front of my four-square home! It's much too severe of a look IMO. There is another lone yew on the side corner which this summer my MIL trimmed into a more rounded shape but I still don't care for it. I really prefer a more natural form as opposed to something that has been been obviously shaped.
I'd like to cut them back by about half but my husband is afraid that will kill them (which would be fine by me because I'd probably replace them with some azaleas or some other softer looking shrub!) They have completely taken over all the space along the foundation so it's impossible to do any other plantings, which means I have zero color in front of my house. I'm coming from Georgia where everyone has gobs of flowers in their yards so my problem may be that I'm having a hard time adapting to the evergreens-and-hostas look of the Midwest (no offense to Midwesterners as I adore being back "home" but I'd forgotten that it's more common to do containers in the front rather than beds & I do a terrible job keeping containers watered!). I do like that the yews are evergreen but otherwise I despise the way these things look! Please help me! :-)
I guess my questions are... when I can I prune these babies? Rumor has it that we could still get a frost as late as Memorial Day, but it's been 70's for several weeks and things are blooming/growing already. How severely can I wack them back? Does the dead growth inside pose any problems we need to consider while pruning? If I cut them way back, will they eventually adopt a more natural look? Where do I prune them? From the inside? I am thinking if I wack the tops & edges off, they will still be square so that would defeat one of the main reasons for pruning? I am so clueless I really need help!
Any advice will be incredibly appreciated. Thanks so much!