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Pruning a Large, very unkept Yew Tree


LawnSite Member
s.e, U.K
On my estate at work I have four yew trees that are in a very un-attractive state, and which I had always planed to remove. This was because I knew Yew as a slow growing tree, and presumed would not look good, or take well, to being pruned to hard. They are 15-18ft high and are shaped like a wine glass, though they come together more on the top.

The owner has said he wants them kept. I have spoken to some one who said he took his Yews, which were of a similar size, down to about five foot, and now -after about four years- were starting to look good again.

One of the Yews has a good shape, but a fair bit of dead and brown leaves on the outside, and some dead in the middle. The health of the rest is much the smae, but these are also mishapen. One doesnt have much growth near the bottom, though this is'nt due to any disease.

Basically if any ones any do's and donts' and what its likely to happen if I take them down low it would help me out a great deal.

Thanks Guys


LawnSite Fanatic
Visalia, CA
There are just soooo many trees/bushes that go by the common name "yew" in the Taxaceae and Cephalotaxaceae families that it would be helpful to have more definitive information.


LawnSite Senior Member
Don't cut more than 25% at one time
sounds like the yews already have issues,when you cut them back you are
also cutting the food supply.

I would cut them at the direction of the homeowner with the understanding
in writting ,that if they do not come back,you would not be held responcible for them.


LawnSite Member
Dracut MA
yea don't cut more than 1/3 of it down each year, other wize it will do much more harm than good.


LawnSite Silver Member
Could you attach a couple of photographs. Pruning is a two-fold art form. One for the shear beauty of the tree...(Which is what I do) and pruning for fruit, which is something that I know very little about. Very seldom do both exist, but can. There's a tree somewhere on the forum pruned by a gentlemen in Oregon that is the most beautiful tree that I have ever seen and I'm real old.


LawnSite Member
s.e, U.K
Cheers for all the replies guys.

Its Taxus bacata. Its only for asthetic purposes that im pruning it, and he knows what I think he should do (rip them out, and plant some large replacements- hes rich enough), but I will go with the majority and say to take them down no more than a third.

I will try to put pics up, though im not great with computers.

Cheers guys