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The Best Time to Trim Yew Hedges

garden decoration in front of yew hedge image by L. Shat from

Allowed to grow, a yew (Taxus baccata) grows to a height of approximately 50 feet in a pyramid shape. A popular specimen, the yew has been used for centuries as a beloved hedge. In England and Wales, many yew are over 3,000 years old.


The yew has the ability to withstand shearing in many shapes and form. Shearing removes the outer edges of all the branches uniformly to attain a desired shape, size or structure. Many are sheared and formed into elaborate topiary art or unique, twisting hedges.

Pruning and Shearing Time Frame

Shear and prune a yew tree in the late winter or early spring. Begin pruning prior to new growth commencing and as soon as the soil is no longer frozen for best results. Refrain from pruning a grown yew tree past the middle of June, because late season pruning removes the tree's new growth.


Clip the sides of newly planted yews to maintain their overall appearance and encourage the young plants to grow bushier. Avoid clipping the top of the yew until it has reached the desired height because clipping its growing tip will slow the shrub's growth down radically.

Trim A Yew

As evergreen conifers, yews (Taxus spp., The safest time of year to trim yews is during dormancy in late winter or early spring before the growing season begins. Trimming at the wrong time of year can lead to unwanted growth. Sharpen the blades of your pruning tools regularly to facilitate clean cuts, which are less prone to disease development, and use the right tool for the job: * Hand pruners are suitable for small twigs that are no larger than about 1/4 inch in diameter. * Hedge shears trim off many stems at one time and are typically used to attain a manicured or sharply geometric appearance. While most conifers can't produce new growth on old wood, yews sprout new growth right away, even when severely pruned, because of the many buds present on both their old and new wood. Alternatively, cut back 1 or 2 inches into healthy tissue. Avoid pruning when pests are active on your yews as the exposed tissue may attract more pests.

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