by Ashley Mackenzie
Yews' foliage and seeds are poisonous if ingested.
When to Prune
Before you bust out your hand pruners, it's smart to consider the time of year that's safest for pruning yews. Trimming at the wrong time of year can lead to unwanted growth. For instance, pruning in autumn can encourage new growths that don't have time to harden off before plunging winter temperatures damage or kill them. The safest time of year to trim yews is during the dormant period in late winter, when they're not growing. You can also perform a light trim in late summer as the growing period comes to an end.
Though yews don't require many haircuts, they are similar to deciduous trees when it comes to growing back after pruning. While most conifers cannot blossom on old wood, yews sprout new growths right away, even when severely pruned. Still, it's safest to remove just one-third of the total foliage
at one time, at most. You should snip in many different places, rather than taking out an entire side of the tree or shrub, as this random pruning will keep yews looking natural and full. But if you do cut too much, yews are forgiving enough to quickly cover the bare spots with fresh foliage.
Types of Cuts
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