Cutting back a mature Yew in January?

sooey(7MA)January 19, 2012

Hi Kids,

What will happen if I cut back an over grown Yew in the middle of January? Will it be lost or will it grow back? I have cut back lots of them with good success, but never in the middle of January.

The Yew in question has become a safety hazard on our street, interfering with line of sight, etc.

Thanks, Kids.


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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

It will be fine. Yews put out new growth from anywhere on a branch. They can take a hard pruning. It doesn't matter that it's cold outside.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 6:41AM
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Thank you, tree_oracle. I will set to work as soon as My husband returns with the truck.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 9:33AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Hi Sooey, I assume you mean Taxus cuspidata, Japanese Yew? Anyway, I've got 3 growing in a tree form - the 2 largest in particular have needed regular pruning. Last time I pruned them was a couple years ago after a snow storm in either January or February. This was because the branches were laden with snow, so they were weighed down and easier to reach and prune (that was interesting, and snowy, and I still had a hard time reaching the upper branches even with an 8 foot step ladder).

Anyway, I usually prune those in the winter, with no apparent ill effects. They are very hardy and rugged plants but grow very slowly.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 11:03AM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Sooey, I have had the same experience. They should be fine. Almost impossible to kill. You'd have to chop them down to the largest limbs, and even then they will often sprout again. So a little pruning or trimming will be fine, especially if you're only removing parts that are in the way and leaving other parts more-or-less untouched.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 1:09PM
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Hi Kids,

Thank you for all of your help and advice.

I am almost sure that the yews in question are Japanese yews. They are very old, in fact they are transplants form our lot, having been planted first as our original foundation plantings back in 1976. They were moved to their current location in 1984. I was all set to cut them back on Friday but DPW asked me to hold off until after the snow season. It seems that the snow plow drivers use them as visual markers as they plow. I'm glad I called first.

Thanks, Kids.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 9:34PM
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