Yews creep: Don't let them get away from you

Perhaps it seems a cozy courtyard to you. However, people in the space began to feel claustrophobic. That's when they noticed how much hedge creep had occurred.

Perhaps it seems a cozy courtyard to you. However, people in the space began to feel claustrophobic. That's when they noticed how much hedge creep had occurred.

This spring, the owner took the loppers to the shrubs.

This spring, the owner took the loppers to the shrubs.

Shear a shrub without doing any thinning, and you'll probably allow an increase in size by an inch or more every year. You probably won't even know it as your shears ride above the previous year's level. They simply won't be able to cut into the thicket that results from years of growth all originating at the same point

We followed with hand pruners and saw to thin the cut ends.See how bringing the hedge down opens the area?

We followed with hand pruners and saw to thin the cut ends.See how bringing the hedge down opens the area?

See how bringing the hedge down opens the area?

See how bringing the hedge down opens the area?

Yet the feeling of enclosure remains. Notice, too, how much impact the brown wood has.

Yet the feeling of enclosure remains. Notice, too, how much impact the brown wood has.

Thinning reduces the amount of brown showing in the hedge. Even before it sprouts new green, a thinned hedge is more attractive.

Thinning reduces the amount of brown showing in the hedge. Even before it sprouts new green, a thinned hedge is more attractive.

Thinning involves removing stubs such as those you see here. Cut them back at least a year's growth into the shrub.

Understand that we've spread these clippings to show you that some had leaves, some did not. Truth is, those stubs were not spread out in any way but packed together. We cut out whatever we had to cut to break up the clutter.

 

Thinning is not so much work as you might imagine.

Thinning is not so much work as you might imagine.

In 40 minutes we thinned all 40 feet of hedge, netting one partial bag of clippings.

In 40 minutes we thinned all 40 feet of hedge, netting one partial bag of clippings.

So thin for the health of the plant but also to simplify the shearing process and hold the line. Thinned, the shrub will have a greater number of soft, easily-shorn twigs than thick knuckles.

This cut-and-thin process is even quicker when the yew involved is naturally shaped. Here's a yew we've kept this size and shape for 20 years with just 30-minutes of work with hand clippers once per year. More on this in Yews normal cut.