Yew Hedging - Planting on Good Ground

Julian Bosdari posted this on 18 Jul 2016

How to plant yew hedging where drainage is good yew hedging

Planting a yew hedge is mainly common sense. The fundamentals apply; yew hedge plants need light, air, food and water and firm foundations.

You can see all this in our film on How to Plant a Formal Hedge - there is a link from the homepage.These notes are a supplement to that film.

When planting a yew hedge, remember that it can easily still be happy and healthy several hundred years from now.So spend a little extra time and effort on everything you do - it pays dividends. And a good yew hedge adds enormous value to your home.

If you can, plant a yew hedge using bare root plants - yew hedging establishes easily and bare root yew are very much cheaper and tend to be bigger and stronger than their pot grown equivalents. The bare root planting season runs from November to March, while pot grown yew can be planted at any time of year.

As you have well drained ground you should trench plant your yew hedge. Take out a trench about 30 cms deep and 50-60 cms wide. Remove roots, perennial weeds, stones and any other rubble and rubbish and incorporate plenty of well rotted organic matter and a little bonemeal (1 good handful per metre of trench). Break up any clods and work the whole together well so you have a fine, crumbly planting medium. Ideally this work should be done in summer or autumn and left for the weather to help work the soil prior to planting in November - March. However unless your soil is awful, or drains badly (see our note on planting yew on clay soils) you can prepare and plant on the same day.

Depending on plant size, space your yew hedge plants at between 2 and 3 per metre in a single row. A Yew hedge is a beautiful, but formal thing. Getting lines and spacing accurate are therefore important. So always use a string stretched between canes to make sure you are planting straight. It is also a good idea to have a piece of wood as a planting guide marked with the appropriate spacing (50cms or 33 cms).

Return soil to the bottom of the trench, and tread it down so that when each yew is put in the trench it will end up at the same level in the soil as it was before we lifted it. It is a small, unimportant mistake to plant your yew hedge a little too shallow so the plants are not quite deep enough. It is a cardinal error to plant your yew too deep as the bark on young plants can rot easily causing rapid death. A neat trick to make sure you get this right is to aim to end up with a bed that is slightly ridged - no more than 2-3 cms higher in the middle than at the edges. This helps water run away from the trunks of the young yew hedge plants and the ridge will erode so the danger of rotting bark is minimised.

Spread the roots of each plant out well, and return the rest of the soil to the trench (making sure you are not planting too deep) and firming it down well. Don't be afraid to put your full weight on the soil immediately around the plant to make sure it is anchored securely - it is a good idea while doing this to hold the yew so it does not sink with the soil.

Water yew well when it needs it, and don't water at all when the ground is damp. (If the earth is damp 2 cms down, then there is no need to water). If it is dry, then water really well. In the first months after planting, firm down the soil after hard frosts.

Yew has a reputation for being slow growing. This is not strictly true - planted in well prepared ground and watered adequately until it has established - yew can perform well. You should plan on little or no growth in the first year after planting but by year three it should be increasing in height by up to 30 cms per annum. Once you cut the growing tip off however, the rate of growth slows right down - to as little as 5 cms per annum. So never trim the top of your yew hedge until it has reached its final height.

Keep your yew hedge weed free, follow our note on pruning yew.... and watch it grow. Tempted to try? Take a look at our yew hedge plants - we have both bare root and container grown available.

Categories: Hedge Plant Advice
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