Yew Hedge Guide (Your Questions Answered)

Yew is a terrific hedge plant choice for topiary as its dense foliage can be easily shaped, while also providing effective privacy. It is a highly poisonous plant but if treated with care it will be a stylish shrub for your garden.


  • Genus: Taxus
  • Most common variety: English Yew (Taxus baccata)
  • Other popular varieties: Kupfergold (Taxus baccata ‘Kupfergold’), Groenland (Taxus medisa “Groenland’)

What Is A Yew Hedge Like?

Yew hedge is a fairly fast-growing plant that easily grows around 30 cm each year and will thrive if it has full sun all day. Yew has an evergreen, dense foliage that provides both noise reduction and privacy screens and makes it a lasting canvas for other plants in your garden.

Yew Hedge & Squirrel

What Colour Is A Yew Hedge?

The foliage colour of yew hedges is blue/green or chartreuse/gold. The leaves are needle-shaped, flat, and stay green the entire year.

What Are Yew Flowers Like?

Yew hedges have male and female flowers on different plants; the female flower is scaly and shaped like a bud, starting green but turning brown with age, while the male flowers are small white globes. The flowers first appear in February.

Female Yew Hedge Flowers & Berries

What Are Yew Hedge Fruits Like?

Yew hedges produce bright red berries that are are toxic and belong to a chemical group called taxine alkaloids. These can cause respiratory failure.

It’s worth pointing out that almost all parts of the Yew are poisonous. Let’s pretend that all of it is poisonous, so that you don’t get curious about which bits aren’t and you poison yourself.

How Do I Prune A Yew Hedge?

The ideal time for pruning yew hedges is around March, in early spring. You can cut back yews to the old wood as it can tolerate this rate of hard pruning.

  • The goal of pruning needs to be for the yew hedge surface to quickly fill in and become green once more; this can take between two and three years.
  • Boost new growth and speed this up with fifty grams of compost fertiliser per hedge square metre.
  • As soon as the shoots are as long as your finger, cut these back a third.
  • After each new growth of shoots, trim them back a third.

How Do I Propagate A Yew Hedge?

Take Yew cuttings after the new growth of the season has become hardened.

  • Cut around ten inches back from the stem’s tip.
  • Ideally, the yew hedge cutting you take needs to have very healthy foliage, no flowers or fruit and a stem diameter about the size of a pencil.
  • Avoid diseased stems or those with yellowed foliage.
  • Create a planting hole for the cutting and stick the yew into the hole.
  • Drizzle water around the base and push the soil against the stem.

How Do I Plant A Yew Hedge?

  • Yew hedges are planted best between March to April or September to October.
  • Incorporate garden compost or well-rotted manure into the soil to prepare it for a the plant.
  • Plant the yew hedges the same way you would when planting a tree.
  • Plant 18-inch to two-foot high plants as these tend to be more successfully established and grow better than larger plants.
  • Root-balled and bare-rooted yews are preferred because these usually become more readily established.
Yew Hedge New Growth

What Are The Main Threats For A Yew Hedge?

Black vine weevils are a serious yew hedge pest. These are long-snout beetles that have a hard-shell. They feed on the bark and leaves of the yew hedge, creating notches along the needle edges.

These beetles can be trapped by beating infested shrub branches and catching the insects when they fall using a cloth spread out on the ground. You can also apply adhesive products to each stem to prevent adult weevils from climbing upwards to eat the leaves.

Fun Facts About Yew Hedges

  • Historically, yews have been associated with outside toilets or privies in England. This is probably because the hedges keep insects away.
  • Robert Lundberg, a noted lute-player, named yew as the best wood for constructing lutes. This wood is prized among baroque, renaissance and medieval lute builders.
  • Yew hedges are one of Europe’s longest-lived, native species, making it a symbol of doom and death.
  • The tallest yew hedges in the world are at Bathurst though the tallest and longest hedge of any type is in Perthshire, Scotland and is called the Meikleour Beech Hedge.
  • At Rockingham Castle, there is a yew hedge known as Elephant Hedge that has existed for 450 years. The name Elephant Hedge comes from the undulations of the sculpted hedges that look like the backs of elephants. This hedge has survived the English Civil War’s Royalist siege. Little has changed in these hedges since the 1900s.

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Mr X

I'm Jamie and I started TrimHedge to learn about hedge trimming and topiary and share my findings with you. I enjoy the sight of well formed foliage and enjoy helping you keep your hedges in good shape and your borders in order. To find out more about me, visit my About Page.

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