Post a reply

Avatar for Afrederick88
Jun 6, 2020 12:56 PM CST
Thread OP
Western Mass
My girlfriend and I recently bought a house together. The hedges in the front of the house are way to big and want to know if there is a way to drastically cut them down to size or if we'd be better off digging them up and starting fresh? From plant apps, I believe it is some sort of Yew. Pictures included.
Thumb of 2020-06-06/Afrederick88/0b5501
Thumb of 2020-06-06/Afrederick88/40dce3
Thumb of 2020-06-06/Afrederick88/780668
Jun 6, 2020 2:26 PM CST
Name: Big Bill
Livonia Michigan (Zone 6a)
If you need to relax, grow plants!!
Bee Lover Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Region: Michigan Hostas Growing under artificial light
Echinacea Critters Allowed Cat Lover Butterflies Birds Region: United States of America
I think that you are between the proverbial rock and a hard place!
If you drastically trim back yews, they probably will recover over time. Perhaps within four or five years they will look like something. Yeah, they will look like a yew!! I am not a big fan of yews. There are so many superior things to plant other then yews!!!

And if you decide to dig them out, for a homeowner, that is a huge job! If they were mine, I would bite the bullet and hire someone to dig them out.
Orchid lecturer, teacher and judge. Retired Wildlife Biologist. Supervisor of a nature preserve up until I retired.
Jun 6, 2020 5:05 PM CST
Name: Sally
central Maryland (Zone 7b)
See you in the funny papers!
Charter ATP Member Frogs and Toads Houseplants Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Region: Maryland
Composter Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Region: United States of America Cat Lover Birds
so, yes you can cut back those yews any way you like, they will put out new growth from the stems you leave. The more you cut into them, the more bare stem you'll see for a while. Will have an awkward phase while they grow back out.

As Bill said, yews are not anything to write home about IMHO. But you can't kill them either. If you have other things to work on, these can be lived with.
If you decide to replace them, you won't want to plant until fall, so don't rush to rip these out and plant new shrubs in the heat of midsummer.
I'm not so intimidated by old bushes. Elbow grease and young backs! Or you wrap a chain around the base of each, hook to a pickup, pull them out.
Plant it and they will come.
Jun 6, 2020 6:15 PM CST
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Cut them down a couple inches below the height you want them to be. They will grow back.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Jun 6, 2020 6:30 PM CST
Name: Tara
NE. FL. (Zone 9a)
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Organic Gardener Garden Sages Birds Frogs and Toads Dragonflies
Butterflies Hummingbirder Orchids Container Gardener Garden Procrastinator Foliage Fan
Yeah, I'd certainly cut them back, and study the area...with the thought of pulling them out and replacing...
Jun 7, 2020 3:13 PM CST
Name: John
Scott County, KY (Zone 5b)
You can't have too many viburnums..
Region: United States of America Region: Kentucky Farmer Cat Lover Birds Bee Lover
Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers Enjoys or suffers cold winters Dog Lover Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
If you decide to eliminate them, consider that Yew wood is extremely rot resistant, and the framework of these plants is often quite interesting. Cut off at the ground, you could take the rest and use it as yard art, bird feeder hanger, all kinds of ideas.

Or, pass it on to someone who likes to carve or make things from interesting pieces of wood. Give it an additional life beyond yard waste at the curb.

While I might generally agree with the chain and 4WD approach to ripping out something I don't want to dig, I would think twice with doing that with plants that close to the house. There may be unknown things underground there that may be pricey to repair, or downright dangerous to disturb (some explosive utility lines come to mind).

I have had the pleasure (!) of digging out old Yew plants, back when I was a much more strapping energetic young man. It was awful then, as the extensive roots were like iron against a sharpened D-handled solid steel shovel. Did I say extensive? The roots don't end at the edge of the foliage you see. They will extend all along the front of your house, and are no easier to remove out at their ends than near the trunk of the plant.

With that sunny outlook, make peace with whatever choice you pursue. It is worth the exercise and experience to try the "hatrack" approach of severely cutting back all the branches, and observing how this species of plant is able to recover from that treatment. American Holly is another plant that has traditionally been rejuvenated this way. Not many conifers can be. If you decide you don't like the results, you can dispose of the rest at your leisure.

IN ANY EVENT: document and show us what you do! Evidence is not shared often enough, as a step-by-step primer for those that follow in your gardening footsteps.
Only the members of the Members group may reply to this thread.
Member Login:

( No account? Join now! )

Today's site banner is by Murky and is called "Water Lilies with a Happy Bee"

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.