English Yew Taxus baccata
TAXUS BACCATA - English Yew
English Yew is well-known in a variety of guises; as a large, imposing tree with dark green almost black foliage commonly seen in churchyards, forming classic formal hedges in grand gardens where it is often used to mark out mazes, or as bold pieces of topiary. As a single specimen it can slowly reach up to 15m (50ft) or when grown as a hedge can be kept at 1.8–2.4m (6ft-8ft). Its characteristics and longevity make it both magnificent and majestic. Female trees produce small, red fruits by winter favoured by birds. Beware - the foliage and seeds are toxic to people and animals if eaten.
Where to grow
Yew can be tricky to grow at first which is why we only sell young plants that are easier to establish. It will grow on most soils and locations, even on chalk and in shade, but avoid planting on clay as it cannot be grown on waterlogged ground or areas prone to become overly damp at any time. For use as a hedge space the plants at 45cm (18”) intervals in a single row, trimming in late summer with a taper towards the top.
Did you know?
There are many claims to the oldest yew in Britain and many theories to explain their occurrence in churchyards. Many old churchyard trees are older than the churches they stand beside and thought likely to be sites of pagan worship, to which the tree is an important and sacred tree. Yew timber has many uses due to its tremendous strength and flexibility and was once renowned in Europe for its suitability for bow-making.
- Broad headed
- Growth rate
- Soil type
- Light sandy
- Sun levels
- All Sun levels
- Difficulty/hard to grow
- Season of interest
- Berries/fruit colour
- Evergreen Hedge
- Conifer Hedge
- Moisture levels
- Drought tolerant
- Parkland Tree
- Garden Tree
- Small garden Tree
- City/Urban Sites
- Suitable for Topiary
For the continued healthy growth of your trees, shrubs or hedging it is vital that you follow the advice below.
The main reason that plants die within 12 months of having been planted is lack of water. It is essential throughout the spring and summer, to give a heavy enough watering to enable the water to penetrate right down to the deepest root level of the tree. In hot dry spells give the equivalent of 2 bucketfuls every three days.
One of the most common causes of lack of water is competition from grass. When trees are first establishing, the grass roots would be at the same level as the tree roots and are far more efficient at taking up water and thus choke the tree. It is vital for 3 years after planting that your tree or hedge has a circle or strip one metre wide completely free of grass. The way to eliminate grass in order of effectiveness is:
- Spray off the grass with a glyphosate based weed killer such as Roundup. Apply each year for the first 3 years. It is best applied when the tree is dormant as it is absorbed through green leaves and kills the plant off at the roots.
- Firmly fit a mulch mat around the base of the tree by tucking the edges into the soil and put a thick layer of bark mulch on top of this. This can be done after the initial spraying with glyphosate and should avoid the need for further spraying.
Mowing or strimming is NOT an answer to the problem. Each time you mow, the grass will grow back more vigorously and strimming invariably leads to lacerated trunks.
If trees are not correctly secured they will rock in the planting pit. Roots not firmly in contact with the soil are unable to take up moisture and nutrients, resulting in die back or death of the tree. Check, particularly after windy weather, that stakes are still solidly in the ground keeping the base of the trunk firm. The purpose of the stakes is to anchor the roots. Flexing in the wind, higher up the trunk, is not necessarily a problem if the roots are firm.
Bellow is list of the correct system to use to secure your trees.
- 40/60, 60/80, 80/100 whips - Unless rabbit/deer problem no need to stake.
- 100/125, 125/150 1.2m Cane and Easi tie.
- 150/175 1.2m square stake and a buckle tie and spacer.
- 175/250, 6/8, 8/10 15L 1.65 Tree stake and a buckle tie and spacer.
- All larger trees. 2 x 1.65 Tree stake and cross rail with 38mm cushion spacer and 1m of 38mm strapping.
Always use our recommended tree ties or strapping. These are designed and manufactured with the correct amount of give to hold the tree firm without strangling it. They should be checked at the end of each growing season for adjustment as the trunk thickens. Non proprietary materials such as baler twine will cut into the bark and should not be used.
Protection from Animal Damage
Rabbits, deer, sheep, cattle and horses can all potentially damage trees. Ask us for advice on the most appropriate guards for your trees or hedge. Squirrels are also a terrible pest when trees get to about 20ft tall but there is no protection available.