Is there hope for these yews?

Asked April 22, 2019, 10:20 AM EDT

Hello. I planted pyramidal yews on either side of my front door over ten years ago. They are on the side of the house that faces north east, so they get morning light and afternoon shade. The plant tag said they would grow to be 6’ to 8’ tall, but for the last 5 years or so, I have been struggling to keep them pruned and in bounds so that they stay small enough so that they don’t block the windows. I missed pruning a few springs ago and had to cut back a but more than usual two years ago and since then they look a bit bare. I noticed that they both seem to have multiple trunks and now wonder if perhaps the original grower/ nursery had put three saplings in one pot to make it look fuller, and that each shrub is actually really three trees struggling with each other in the same spot? ( I bought them from Walmart originally. ) Is there any hope that they will look full again and be able to be kept at this height ( or a little smaller even) indefinitely, or am I fighting a loosing battle? If so, can you recommend any other plants that might work with that exposure, and accentuate the door with a more vertical or pyramidal shape? Thanks so much.

Calvert County Maryland shrubs plant selection pruning shrubs yews plant care

1 Response

While yews can tolerate significant, even radical, pruning, it can years for them to recover. The yew on the right of the door looks much worse than than on the left. Unless it was pruned a lot more, there is more going on there than simply pruning recovery. It has so little foliage left, it may be in a decline from which it cannot recover.

Since you are fighting the natural inclination of these plants to grow much taller, you might want to replace them. (The next time you read a plant tag, notice whether the size dimensions they give you are for 10 years, or ultimate.)

The space between your door, porch, light and windows is actually quite small. You could consider a Sky Pencil holly, with its narrow width, but it will still need pruning and you might be happier with a much shorter dwarf plant. You can always draw attention to the front door with colored foliage, and leave the vertical lines for the ends of the house to frame the house.