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Yew tree help/topiary

Hi all,

Im a complete novice gardener (but full of enthusiasm!) and was hoping for some advice on two yew trees that I inherited in my garden. 

The previous owner kept the shapes neat but they’ve grown tall and misshapen and I absolutely hate them!!

Does anyone have any ideas what I can do with them e.g. train them into another shape, make them lollipops, cut them right down and start again, leave them to bush out, get rid completely etc? 

One is clearly doing better than the other, so ideally I’d like to make them match again if possible, but not sure how drastic I can be with this species 

any ideas/thoughts I would so grateful!! 
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Posts

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,089
    I'd be a bit more radical ... I'd turn them into cones ... the branches in the middle will fill out in a couple of seasons.  
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,089
    Gotta love an espalier ... a fence and a pear tree all in one 


    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,907
    Hi @Pash321 - nothing that says you have to keep them if you really don't like them, but yew is very forgiving, so don't be frightened to give them a good haircut. Probably the easiest is to take all the lower growth and leave the tops, and then you can practice your hairdressing skills  ;)
    They look ok healthwise, but if you feel they need a little boost, you can give them a liquid seaweed feed or similar, or even just some slow release granular feed around the base and a watering, followed by a mulch. That's certainly worth doing if you decide to cut them back to a single trunk. 
    They look as if they're forming a gateway to the latter part of your garden? If you really dislike them, or don't want the hassle of constant pruning [I'd find it irritating if I couldn't get them the same!] you could replace them with something you'd like better. 
    There are lots of small trees which would work, or you could do a simple arch/pergola of some kind and have some climbers. 
    It really depends on what you would like to see there  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,089
    edited April 2020
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 33,261
    they currently look.... somewhat, erm ..... Phallic??
    I'd turn them into cones too.
    Trim the tops to a point and let the rest catch up.
    Devon.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,089
    Think that's probably in the eye of the beholder @Hostafan1 ;)
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 33,261
    Think that's probably in the eye of the beholder @Hostafan1 ;)
    Maybe??
    Devon.
  • Pash321Pash321 Posts: 12
    Thank you all for your replies! most appreciated :smile:

    Hexagon said:
    It looks like the two bottom balls are uneven and the top ones are fairly even, so I'd lollipop them. Just cut away all the growth up to reveal the trunk up to the top balls.
    My initial thought was to try this, but on closer inspection there doesn't seem to be a central trunk, i'm not sure if its the way they have been trained but the centre is made up of about 6 or 7 trunks that all feed into the top sphere (i was hoping there'd be one chunky bit in the middle)
    And yep - they are espalier apple trees

    I'd be a bit more radical ... I'd turn them into cones ... the branches in the middle will fill out in a couple of seasons.  
    This is definitely tempting! Would they survive a pretty good chop at the top? i'd like them a good few inches shorter than they are

    Hostafan1 said:
    they currently look.... somewhat, erm ..... Phallic??
    Sadly this is exactly how i see them too :neutral:

    Fairygirl said:
    Hi @Pash321 - nothing that says you have to keep them if you really don't like them, but yew is very forgiving, so don't be frightened to give them a good haircut. Probably the easiest is to take all the lower growth and leave the tops, and then you can practice your hairdressing skills  ;) ....
    Hi Fairygirl, thanks for your help! They are indeed forming a gateway to the back section of garden, and i am actually planning on putting in an archway in this gap with something lovely growing up it (not decided what yet though!) it is a cottage garden so trying to keep it all looking fairly traditional. It drives me mad that they don't match, the thinner one although healthy seems to struggle with bushiness - maybe i need to trim more often to encourage growth? Do you think they would survive me cutting the lollipop bit off the top and starting again at a smaller height? I think their height contributes to my dislike of them :wink:  It's hard to tell on the picture but they are over 5ft tall
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,907
    You could still lollipop them - the individual trunks would actually be quite nice  :)
    I think it might be tricky to chop the top off and try to start again. I don't think the new growth would form the way you want it, but it's not something I've ever done, so it could be worth a try. 
    Or are you secretly hoping it goes Pete Tong 'cos you want rid ?  :D

    To be honest - if you're wanting to do an arch, it might be better to just go for it, and put that in place. It would work very nicely with your espaliers too, assuming, of course, that you can get timber etc in the near future :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,089
    edited April 2020
    Yes they’d survive a chop at the top. I know some very large yews either side of a churchyard gate ... some years they were chopped hard back from about 15ft to about 5 ft tall (and the cut off branches were sent to aid research into a cure for breast cancer https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatment/chemotherapy/yew-clippings )

    The following spring the trees had already greened up and covered all the bare stumps and a few years later they were heading back up towards 15’. 😊 

    I would cut yours down to about 8 -10” below what you want the finished height to be as you want new growth so you can shape the top. 

    It’ll look a bit grim to start with but be brave ... it’ll be worth it 👍 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







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