The yew (Taxus baccata) forms a dense evergreen hedge that commonly attains a height of approximately 25 feet, but that can grow up to 50 feet. Numerous cultivars exist that vary in size. A slow-growing shrub, it usually grows less than 1 foot per year. Highly toxic, the female shrub, produces bright red berries that contain a deadly seed. The leaves and bark of the shrub also produce the poisonous substance taxine. Avoid planting a yew hedge anywhere frequented by children, pets or livestock.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Aged manure or compost
Clear a planting location in full sunlight or shade. The yew requires well-draining soil conditions. Plant the yew hedge in the spring months.
Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the shrub's root system. Plant the yew at the same depth it was planted in its nursery container.
Mix aged manure or compost into the soil so it feels crumbly to the touch. Place the yew into the hole.
Tamp the soil down around the yews root system to remove all air pockets. Space the yew shrubs at least 2 to 4 feet apart when planting a hedge that will be maintained at a height size of 6 to 8 feet. Space the shrubs 4 to 6 feet apart if the hedge will be maintained at a height of 8 to 12 feet.
Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the base of the yew shrub to help keep the soil moist and reduce any weed growth. Water the newly planted yew shrubs. Keep them moist, but not overly damp.
Tips and warnings
- The yew grows best in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness zones 5 to 7. Consider planting the yew in a protected location if planting in a USDA zone 5.
- Avoid placing the yew hedge in areas that receive excessive wind.
- Mealybugs can infect the yew hedge. Promptly treat with horticultural oils or a strong blast of water to avoid damage.
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- University of Florida IFAS Extension; Taxus baccata: English Yew; Edward F. Gilman, et al.
- Michigan State University Extension: Taxus baccata--English Yew
- The Gymnosperm Database: Taxus Baccata
- University of Connecticut Plant Database: Taxus Baccata
- University of Rhode Island Extension: Taxus Mealybug
- Iowa State University; Selecting and Planting Hedges; Richard Jauron; March 1995