Is our evergreen dead?

Asked May 26, 2014, 9:10 AM EDT

We have some sort of evergreen in our front yard. It appears to have died over the winter (see the attached photo), but we would like confirmation. Is this plant dead, or will it live?

Ramsey County Minnesota

3 Responses

The damage is severe, but unlike many other evergreens, yews can tolerate hard pruning and recover as long as portions remain green. We can't be certain from viewing the photo, however, whether enough healthy wood will remain after the winter-burned portions are removed to restore the hedge. To learn more, see the University of Wisconsin Extension article "Brown Needles on Yew Cause Concern."

Hi Bob, Thanks very much for the reply. Can you tell me how far back to prune the shrub? Any special instructions/tips?

Watch for new green growth to sprout. The new growth will appear as tiny light green tufts. You can then take a pair of clippers and clip off as much of the browned areas as possible without cutting off the new buds. The hope is that the new growth will hide the damage in time. If a branch coming off the main trunk has no new growth on it, it is dead. Unsightly gaps may result.

There may be no lasting effect on the plants' health, but they probably won't look good until enough new growth has developed to shape them.

It's probably best to wait a couple weeks before trimming or at least until most of the new growth is obvious.