How to Plant a Yew Hedge – Part 3: Maintenance

Once a Yew Hedge is in the ground, little more is required to keep it happy…
• Keep the immediate area weed free for at least three seasons– this is a manual job as using a weed killer so close to the Yew plant is an obvious no-no
• The Yew may be drought tolerant and hate being waterlogged, but it still needs water! Having watered your Yews after planting, keep an eye on the soil, especially during dry periods, and maintain a damp – never sodden –level of moisture
• After a month or so in the ground, Yews will be grateful for a little food. Nothing fancy is required – a regular dose of standard proprietary feed (liquid or granular) or good old fish, bone, blood, administered according to the pack instructions, will encourage growth
• Formal hedges – including Yew – should be trimmed from the outset to a batter. This simply means tapering the plant so that the base is wider than the top. This way, light will reach the bottom of the hedge which will respond by growing stronger and evenly from top to bottom.
• In the first few years, light trimming is required to keep the burgeoning hedge’s shape. Do this in early summer as new growth darkens and again, if required, in late August.
Remember: NEVER TRIM THE TOP OF YOUR YEWS until they have reached the desired height as doing this will reduce annual growth of around 5cm!
Looking ahead…Yew is quite capable of growing higher than an average house but, in most cases, this would be a little extravagant. Generally, keeping your hedge to around 2 m will provide all the privacy, security and grandeur you will require. There is also a practical reason for this – there are many powered hedge trimmers on the market that both extend to this height and feature a right-angled cutting head so that an established hedge can be kept in shape without the need of a ladder.
And finally…Although you may think you are planting a Yew Hedge purely for the satisfaction of yourself, family and friends, it is worth remembering that your efforts will be gratefully, if anonymously, recognised and appreciated by countless generations to come. And if your garden already has a Yew Hedge planted one or more centuries ago, you’ll know what we mean.