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Cutting down a large yew tree

I would be very grateful for any advice.  I live in a large house in the Cotswolds, approximately 300 years old. There is a very large yew tree (taller than the house) within about 3 metres of the house.  As far as I am aware, this tree is not protected by any TPO.

This tree causes quite a nuisance as it blocks out a lot of light to my house.  It overhangs my neighbours' garden and reduces light to their garden too.  I have heard that yew can be poisonous, and as I have small children, this is also a worry to me. I would really like to have the whole tree removed.  We have, in previous years, had it reduced in height, but this hasn't solved the problems.

I would like to know how I can determine whether it is safe to cut down this tree. A google search has suggested that I might be worried about "heave" and that I might need to know what soil type I have before making a decision about cutting down the tree.

I would welcome any advice from anyone who has any knowledge on this subject.  My gardening knowledge is very limited!


  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,167

    I would get at least 2 different Tree Surgeons in to give advice; and preferably ones that a Surveyor would recommend.

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,572

    the trouble regarding " heave" is a very real consideration. If you remove the tree, all the water that such a large tree sucked out of the ground every day, will, obviously not be sucked out. This can lead to the ground actually rising and causing damage. 

    I'd suggest you contact the tree preservation officer at your local council who should give impartial advice.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,135

    I agree with Artjak you need qualified Arboriculturists' advice - not just a jobbing chap with a chain saw certificate - lots of info here and 

    Also, good yew timber can be valuable to furniture makers and wood turners - don't give it away for firewood - you could get a lovely yew wood bowl or something made for you in return for the timber. image

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • BamboogieBamboogie Posts: 239

    Argee with advice given in terms of seeking advice from an experienced Tree Surgeon. They will come and offer advice for free if they're not cowboys.

    Also the Yew wood is beautiful, so any sections of the tree that are clean(not any knots) and of good size, is worth you keeping. Ask the tree surgeon to leave these section of truck/large branches as large managable pieces.

    Yew has a beautiful dark redish heart wood which wood turners/ carpenters love. Would be lovely to have a bowl or something to remenber this ancient tree by.

  • Thank you for all of the replies - very helpful!

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,135

    Just look at the yew wood bowls you can find on google 

    As Bamboogle says, it would be a lovely thing to have in your home to remind you of an ancient tree. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • On a chainsaw course I did the tutor warned against burning Yew as every part of Yew is poisonous and retains its poison even after being cut.  This from the net:

    Yew: This burns slowly, with fierce heat. The scent is pleasant. Another carving favorite. Note that every part of this plant, except for the fruit contains poisonous taxines. Death to livestock after ingestion of this plant is well documented and there are reported cases of suicides from ingestion of leaves. Sawdust is dangerous if ingested or inhaled. The Romans reported death after ingestion of wine stored in Yew vessels, yet Yew cups, bowls and plates are still very popular - not that this makes them any less poisonous. Taxines are carried in smoke and the safety of using this wood for cooking or heat is questionable.

    People do use it as fire wood as it burns very hot and people do use it to make things like bowls. The flesh of the berries is harmless but the seeds inside are toxic. The leaves have killed cattle that ingest them so the question of it being dangerous is a strange one and may vary from situation to situation.

    I'm no expert but personally I'd err on the side of caution and if you do get it cut I would'nt burn it as if fumes build up enough they could be dangerous for example if they build up in a neighbors house while you're burning it and I'd try not to inhale too much sawdust during cutting but that's just me. 


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