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Growing Yew - A Message from the Suppliers

Busting Myths about Growing Yew

Yew is quite a pricey plant, especially sizes over 80 cms tall that are delivered as rootballs.
If you were going to get a free hedge and based your choice on saving the most money, Yew would be a top contender.
As you know, we are are yew hedging suppliers (amongst a few other plants!).

You might well guess that our friends and family often try to blag a few plants from us.
If they cook us a nice enough dinner, we might even give them a deal on some.

So we've seen a few yew hedges come up in their gardens since 1947 and we want to say a few of things about them:

1. Yew is not slow growing

Yew is a fairly fast growing plant when it is young.
It will easily grow 30cms per year, more if it is in full sun all day and well cared for.
Yew will begin to grow slowly when the growing tips of the central, leading stems are cut.

With a young yew hedge, simply leave the tops alone and give the sides just the lightest trim once each winter.
When the hedge reaches full size, trim the tips for the first time.

2. Yew Loves Heavy Clay

Yew trees need a reasonably well drained soil to grow. They do not like bogs or riversides.
However, they will grow in any soil that isn't really wet for most of the year - some winter flooding is fine.

Yew loves heavy clay - it grows beautifully on it in most places.  You will only be unable to grow Yew if the site traps water for long periods.

When planting in clay, do not dig out a trench and fill it with topsoil.
Simply make a slit in the soil and use the spade to sweep the roots gently down into it. Firm it closed again.

3. Yew is Futureproof

Your hedge's lifespan is ~4000 years.
Unlike the other lush evergreen conifers, an old Yew hedge can be hard pruned if necessary and it will regrow beautifully.

4 thoughts on “Growing Yew - A Message from the Suppliers”

  • Elisabeth Ollier
    Elisabeth Ollier 16th April 2012 at 4:01 pm

    This is a yew tree question. I wonder if you can help. We live in a Tudor house with a Yew tree planted a foot away from the side. It's a gorgeous tree and it could well be 3-400 yrs old. I am being told to cut it down by surveyors as they think it's damaging our floors as its the closest tree to the house. Am I wrong in thinking that by this amount of time the tree would have done all it's root growing and it's more likely to be a different tree further away? Please help as I so want to keep our Yew tree!! Many thanks Elisabeth

    • julian

      Thanks for your yew tree question.

      I am not sure I can answer this clearly.

      1. All trees slow up in terms of growth as they get older, but a yew tree (taxus baccata) can live to several thousand years so it has plenty of time to grow a bit more.
      2. To complicate things further yew has a clever ability to NOT grow when times are hard so it could well be older than you think.
      3. You also do not mention what the other trees that might be affecting your house are and how far away they are.

      Having said all of which, 1ft is incredibly close to a house, especially an old one whose foundations are not going to be concrete.... so I have a horrible feeling it might have to go


  • N

    I was wondering how long does it take to get Yew mature and use it for cancer research?

    • Ashridge Support

      Yew grows at about 30 cms a year once established. I have no idea how much foliage you need for cancer research but we would not recommend cutting it back hard for at least 4-5 years after planting.

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