Yew Hedge: How To Care For It Properly

Yew Hedge: How To Care For It Properly

Yew is excellent as a hedge plant. It is low-maintenance, cut-resistant, evergreen and withstands winter well. However, the tree with the attractive red fruits is poisonous, which families with small children should take into account when planting. A few simple care tips will get you to the best thriving yew hedge.

The yew impresses with its rich red fruits

The scientific name of the European yew is Taxus baccata. It is a conifer, but usually grows rather shrubby. The plant blooms inconspicuously and delights in autumn with its red fruits. All components of Taxus baccata are poisonous. Only the seed coat of the berries is an exception and is readily eaten by birds. Thus birds also contribute to the spread of the conifer.

The yew is one of the oldest trees in Central Europe. The wood is considered to be particularly hard and has therefore been used for tools and weapons since time immemorial. The tree grows quite slowly and can become very old.

Different varieties of yew available

In addition to the native form Taxus baccata, we have several cultivars. Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata Robusta’ grows columnar, while Taxus baccata ‘Semperaurea’ – the golden shrub yew – makes a special eye-catcher with its golden-yellow needles. Taxus media hillii does not bear fruit and thus does not tempt small children to taste it, and Taxus media hicksii grows a little smaller than the European oak at three to five meters tall.

Care of the yew is uncomplicated

Since the yew is generally undemanding, the care usually succeeds well. With this gardening guide on the subject of yew, the visually appealing conifer will develop particularly splendidly.

The suitable location

The yew is surprisingly tolerant of shade. Since it appreciates intense sunlight less, the tree should be planted in shade to partial shade. Locations with somewhat higher humidity are ideal for Taxus baccata. The soil should be calcareous with a small amount of clay or sandy and slightly acidic. In very dry locations, the yew is susceptible to spider mites. However, it generally does not need much water.

The right pruning

The yew is easy to prune into shape at any time. This is due to its high pruning tolerance. Pruning can therefore be severe and should be done in early spring – before the tree sprouts. Topiary is then ideal between June and July. From August, however, Taxus baccata should not see pruning shears. Otherwise, the risk of frost damage in winter increases.

How best to fertilize the yew

The undemanding yew does not need much fertilizer. It is best to treat it with a slow-release fertilizer before the first sprouting in spring. This should preferably be organic. Alternatively, the soil around Taxus baccata can be covered with compost. If the substrate is sandy, it can be renewed regularly to prevent the nutrients from being washed out.

Pay attention to the coloration of the yew

If the needles of the yew discolor, this may indicate an infestation of pests. This is usually given with a yellow discoloration. Brown needles, on the other hand, except in winter, indicate a lack of water.

Control pests

In hot and dry summers, spider mites like to weave their fine webs between the branches of the yew tree. If the infestation is mild, they can be repeatedly sprayed away with a little water. To prevent further spread of the pests, affected branches should be removed. Beneficial insects such as predatory mites also provide protection against infestations. They also help against the less common aphids and scale insects. Applying nettle decoction is another helpful measure.


The European yew is a grateful garden resident. With a little care, the conifer delights the amateur gardener with a dense, healthy growth and bright red fruits in autumn.

One of the most popular hedge plants in our country is yew. No wonder, because yew has many good qualities that make it perfect for hedges. In this blog you will learn how to choose the right yew and how to care for yews.

Why just a yew hedge?

Winter is coming and most trees are already bare. This is when yew hedges, like most other conifers, come into their own. Yew trees are hedge plants that keep their beautiful green needles all year round and won’t make your garden look so bare during the winter months. Yews are not only evergreen, but also very hardy. In winter, the roots do not need additional protection. This will save you a lot of work.

Because yews have dense branch structure and are easy to prune, they are great for formal hedges and even topiary, as long as the shapes aren’t too fancy. A narrow hedge with straight lines is no problem with yew. Strictly pruned yew hedges provide a neat appearance. In addition, the plants are well tolerant of pruning and quite undemanding in terms of maintenance. Because of their slow growth (about 15-30 cm per year), it is also not necessary to use hedge clippers too often.

Yews are used for high and low formal hedges. Because they are evergreen hedge plants and have a dense structure, a tall yew hedge provides the perfect privacy screen. Yew trees are also great as a garden border or to delineate a section of your yard. If you keep the hedge low, the yew will create a beautiful border around your front yard. Yews are very elegant and attractive hedge plants. The female varieties of the plant decorate themselves with red berries in the fall. All parts of the plant are poisonous except the flesh of the berries, which is very difficult to separate from the poisonous seeds. Under no circumstances should you attempt to eat the pulp. Children should also not play alone in a garden with a fruiting yew hedge.

Yew Hedge: How To Care For It Properly

Care yew hedge

Compared to other conifers, the yew tree tolerates pruning well. Most conifers will not resprout if you cut them back to the old wood where no more green will grow. Not so the yew. If you neglect pruning a bit, there will be no serious consequences. Despite the slow growth, it is advisable to prune at least once a year. This will keep the yew densely branched, healthy and you will maintain its beautiful appearance. Also, a strict shape, for which yew is so well suited, will be preserved longer in this way.

It is best to prune yews on a cloudy day. Never prune in bright sunshine, as the leaves that come to light can burn. Rather, choose a day with drizzle, even though you may have to wear rain gear then. Cut the first time before the longest day of the year, which usually falls on June 21, and then again once before September. This will give the plant plenty of time to recover before the onset of winter, and you’ll have a nice, narrow yew hedge all year long.

In order for the plant to recover from pruning as quickly as possible, we recommend using sharp pruning tools. Since yew doesn’t have large leaves like cherry laurel, you can definitely use a large hedge trimmer or an electric hedge trimmer. This will allow you to trim large sections of the hedge in one operation and achieve a nice result with straight lines. Stretch a string between two sticks that you stick into the ground at the ends of the hedge. Now simply cut along the string: this way you do not run the risk of cutting the hedge crooked.

The different yews

The common yew (Taxus baccata) is one of the most popular hedge plants in our assortment. It is a fairly undemanding and low-maintenance plant that thrives in most locations, whether they are sunny or shady. The common yew gets red berries in autumn, which are very popular with birds. This hedge plant will bring life to your garden. However, be aware that all parts of the plant are poisonous. Special care should be taken when children or pets are in the garden.

Cup yews ‘Hillii’ and ‘Hicksii’ (Taxus media ‘Hillii’ and Taxus media ‘Hicksii’) can be combined in a hedge. There is the female fruiting cup yew ‘Hicksii’ and the male non-fruiting cup yew ‘Hillii’. If berries are to appear on the Fruiting Cup Yew, plant a Non-Fruiting Cup Yew nearby. Often one male yew is enough for ten female yews. Cup yews grow slightly slower and more compact than common yews. Even though they grow slowly, yews can reach several feet tall.

In many ways, yews are the ideal hedge plants, so it is not surprising that they often decorate our gardens. They have a dense growth and provide a green screen all year round. In addition, these plants are very easy to care for. The benefits of yews are very versatile and this is what makes them so popular. More and more garden owners plant this beautiful conifer as a hedge.

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