Instructions to Plant & Grow a Yew


The yew (Taxus baccata), commonly grown as a hedge, screen or topiary, grows to approximately 25 feet in height but has been known to reach 50 feet under ideal circumstances. The shrub can easily spread 20 feet. Each spring the yew produces tiny white flowers followed by bright red berries. The seeds are highly toxic to humans and animals. The seed, bark and foliage of the plant produce a substance known as taxine, one of the most toxic substances in the world, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The yew tree offers ease of care and relatively fast growth.

Step 1

Plant the yew tree in full sunlight with acidic or loamy, well-draining soil.

Step 2

Mix aged manure and peat moss into the soil until it is crumbly and rich to the touch. Mix at a ratio of 25 percent peat moss, 25 percent aged manure and 50 percent garden soil.

Step 3

Dig a hole that is twice as large as the root ball of the yew tree. Place the yew into the hole. Plant the tree at the same soil level that it was planted at in its nursery container. Firm the soil and organic material around the trees root system. Tamp the soil down to remove all air pockets.

Step 4

Apply 3 to 4 inches of mulch such as leaf debris, bark chips or peat moss around the base of the yew tree.

Step 5

Water the yew tree until the first 2 inches of soil feels moist to the touch.

Step 6

Apply 2 to 3 inches of aged manure around the base of the yew tree each spring. Work the manure into the top layer of the soil.

Step 7

Trim the yew tree in August to the desired shape or size.

Tips and Warnings

  • A yew tree will not tolerate wet roots. Keep children away from yew trees Never plant a yew tree near livestock or horses because of its dangerous toxicity. Livestock or horses can be killed within one hour of consuming parts of a yew tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Mulch (peat moss, leaf debris or bark chips)
  • Aged manure
  • Peat moss


  • U.S. Forest Service: Taxus baccata
  • The Classic Gardener: Yew Care Guide
  • Gymnosperm Database: Taxus baccata

Who Can Help

  • Michigan State University: Taxus baccata
Keywords: yew tree care, planting a yew, yew tree growth

About this Author

Kimberly Sharpe is a freelance writer with a diverse background. She has worked as a Web writer for the past four years. She writes extensively for Associated Content where she is both a featured home improvement contributor (with special emphasis on gardening) and a parenting contributor. She also writes for Helium. She has worked professionally in the animal care and gardening fields.