Q. My yews are looking a little overgrown. What’s the proper way to prune yews?
A. The proper way to prune Yews is to use hand pruners to carefully thin the branches. This will help to retain the shrub’s natural form and thick green foliage.
Shearing will cause excessive growth to form on the ends of the branches, shading out interior needles and making the plants have a woody look. After a few years of shearing, you will have a harsh formal shape (usually a box, ball, or cone depending on the operator) and no clue of its real form or texture. Plus, the interior of the shrub will be comprised of nothing but deadwood.
Pruning can be done just about any time of the year, although I personally recommending pruning in the dormant period (November to earl-/mid-April here in the Mid-Michigan area).
Evergreens are usually planted for their winter interest so let’s see what we can do about keeping that soft, lacy evergreen form twelve months a year.
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