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Growing yew hedges

Posted: Monday 10 September 2012
by James Alexander-Sinclair

People are sometimes scared to plant yew, partly because the berries are poisonous [...] and also because they worry that it will grow too slowly.


Topiarised yew hedging

We have just cut the yew hedge in the garden. I have to admit that the lion's share of the work was done by the excellent Simon - the finest hedge cutter in Northamptonshire (and, undoubtedly, beyond). This hedge was planted by me exactly 12 years and three months ago, almost to the day. I know this not because I keep accurate records, but because I salvaged it from the Chelsea Flower Show in 1999.

People are sometimes scared to plant yew, partly because the berries are poisonous (the seeds are really bad news but, oddly, the red flesh that surrounds them is pleasingly sweet and a bit gelatinous) and also because they worry that it will grow too slowly.

True, it is much slower than leylandii but not that slow - you can get a decent sized hedge in seven years. We tend to clip ours once a year which is about a day's work in all - most of it spent clearing up rather than clipping.

What I enjoy most about our hedge is the fact that it is not at all straight: it dips, whoops and hollers. It also changes quite often when we decide to deepen a dip or put in a ball. That is the glory of hedges - they can be cut in any way you want because nothing is permanent: if it works, fine. If not then it will grow back in a couple of years and you can start again.

At the moment, I think the end of it looks very like the front of an Intercity 125 train. Next year it may all be different.





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Gavin Stevens 30/05/2013 at 21:38

People often believe that Yew hates water; it will not tolerate water logging. The best hedges I have seen are on the Norfolk Broads just inches above the watertable