The Q&A Archives: Why are my yews turning yellow?

Question: We live in New Town which is a new home area built on formerly farm property in the low (wet) lands of St. Charles Missouri. I am not good at identifying shrubs, but from what I have learned I believe we just have common yews. The yews are planted at the front of our house which I believe is a northern exposure. They are in front of a large porch on lightly elevated soil since our porch sits up above the natural grass line (we had our basement ceiling elevated a couple feet.) There have been strong winds rushing the front of our property, but I do not think there is any

Answer: This could be related to a number of factors. First, newly planted evergreens are especially subject to winter burn, or drying out during the winter. This can cause yellowing. Yews in particular are not suited to soil that is overly wet; the soil should not be saturated as it would be in a low area. The slightly raised planting area should be adequate to provide good drainage, but you might want to dig down a bit and see. Overfertilizing or accidental contact with an herbicide can cause yellowing. Contact with deicing salt to soil or foliage can also cause yellowing. Another possible cause would be freeze damage to new growth tips or buds. You might want to consult with your local county extension for more specific advice about your yews. As far as shrubs for a foundation on the north side of a house, yews would be a reasonably good choice. You might want to give them a temporary wind break of burlap screening or fencing next winter or two while they are still new, to help prevent them drying out in all that wind.

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