The Q&A Archives: Snow Damage to Yews

Question: I have large bushes on my property, they are quite healthy. I would say they are at least 10 years old. I think they are called yews. The problem is they are damaged in the middle from the heavy snow and wind. If I trim them to close to the center to promote new growth they will be bare, because the only nice healthy growth is on the very ends. When and how should I trim them? Should I stake or support them after I trim them? Or should I cut them all the way down, and let them start over. Or should I pull them out and replace them?

Answer: It's not unusual for old, large-sized yew bushes to have only live growth on the outer edge and dead growth in the center. When you have an incident like a snow storm bending the center open, there are a few options you can take. The easiest and most satisfying would be to start all over again with another yew or another bush. Yews can be pruned severely into the woody growth and they will resprout. However, my experience is this takes time (years) and the new growth isn't very vigorous. If you decide to prune, do it now.

You may also tie the shrub back together with wire, but depending on the damage, this may only be a temporary solution. I'd say treat yourself to a new shrub.

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