How to Prune Yew Trees

Updated February 21, 2017

The yew is a versatile tree for landscaping. This small evergreen tops out at 20 to 25 feet and thrives in the U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 5 to 7. It's a hardy plant that grows well in many different well-drained soil types, and varying sun and shade conditions. While the yew will naturally grow in a symmetrical pyramidal shape, regular pruning will enhance the shape of your tree. Yews can be trimmed at any time of the year.

Work around the base of the tree with hand trimmers and remove any branches or shoots that are protruding beyond the base of the tree. Your goal is to establish a symmetrical round shape around the base that you can extend up the tree to the tip.

Place your ladder next to the yew and continue working up the tree with your hand pruners or power trimmer. Stop frequently and step back to maintain perspective on the shaping process. Stop when you have reached the top.

Watch for diseased or broken branches and limbs throughout the year. Trim these with hand trimmers or a saw if necessary.


Use care when working with ladders and power tools.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruners or power trimmer
  • Limb saw
  • Ladder or step ladder
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About the Author

Based in Virginia, Nichole Liandi has been a freelance writer since 2005. Her articles have appeared on various print and online publications. Liandi has traveled extensively in Europe and East Asia and incorporates her experiences into her articles. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from West Virginia University.