How far can I cut back yew?

Asked August 23, 2019, 6:38 AM EDT

I have a hedge of yew along my garage about 4 ft high. It goes up to the bottom of the windows. I would like to add flower boxes, so I need to cut the hedge back by about 12-18 inches. Can I do this all at once? When should I cut it back? What are your suggestions?

Oakland County Michigan lawns and turf pruning shrubs

1 Response

Hello, Yew is a random branching shrub with many dormant growing buds. It responds well to being cut back hard. Unlike other evergreen plants, if you sheer into the dead zone of brown wood in a yew, it will green up again. If you cut deep into that zone, it may take a couple of years to green up. If you can tolerate that brown wood, in early spring, you can head back to the height you want the yews. If not, prune back old growth in the spring and remove feather growth when it emerges in the summer and repeat over a couple of years until the yews are at the height you want them. If you do a radical reduction at one time, reduce the stress of the shrub by providing good a cultural environment. Yews prefer moist well-drained soil, so ensure that it has an inch of water a week and does not grow in standing water. Good luck with your yews.