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Tree identification and pruning advice?

Discussion in 'Trees' started by pigeon, May 9, 2018.

  1. pigeon

    pigeon Apprentice Gardener

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    Hi Everyone,

    This tree in my front garden was planted by the previous owners, so I'm not sure what kind it is.

    I think it's starting to get maybe a little... scraggly? for want of a better word? And would like to prune it back so it's a little tidier and more compact.

    Does anyone know what kind of tree this is, and do you have any pruning advice - if I should prune it at all? I don't want to do anything to harm it!

    These pictures were taken mid-april - I can take more if needed to help identify it.

    The tree:
    Screen Shot 2018-05-09 at 14.17.08.png

    The leaves:
    Screen Shot 2018-05-09 at 14.17.30.png

    The trunk:
    Screen Shot 2018-05-09 at 14.18.46.png
     
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    • Perki

      Perki Super Gardener

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      Its a Yew. Depends on what shape you want it to be whether its worth pruning. Yew is commonly used for hedges or topiary ( one of the best for topiary ) It could in theory be trimmed into a giant ball - cone - or what ever shape takes your fancy. You could leave it a tree shape, I would do a crown lift / skirt lift which removes all the lower branches to a desired height ( can be under planted after ), I would shorten some of the over long branches as well if it improves the shape / balance of the tree.
       
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      • Gail_68

        Gail_68 Guest

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        Hi @pigeon... I agree with @Perki the lower branches would be removed ...as you could make that tree look very smart cut properly.
         
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        • pigeon

          pigeon Apprentice Gardener

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          Thanks @Perki - that’s excellent news!

          I agree with you and @Gail_68 about removing the lower branches - those in particular are looking a bit unruly, especially on the other side to the right of the photo, plus I like the idea of being able to see a bit of the trunk - and then trimming the over long branches into a nice balanced “tree” shape.

          It’ll be a bit nerve wracking.... but I guess I’ll just do it slowly and keep stepping back to look at the overall shape.

          Wish me luck :smile:
           
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          • Gail_68

            Gail_68 Guest

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            Hi Pigeon, that's definitely something you need to do is keep stepping back to make sure your getting the shape right but if you have tall steps...some height would be taken from it also.

            Here's a standard Yew tree cut in to shape but yours would be larger unless you cut more off it and best of luck mate and pic updates would be appreciated :dbgrtmb:

            [​IMG]
             
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            • Marley Farley

              Marley Farley Affable Admin! Staff Member

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              @pigeon If you shape your yew annually, you will never have to resort to hard pruning a yew. It’s better to keep cutting back yews gradually, year after year.
              They are not like conifers, yews usually respond well to pruning. In saying that clipping at the wrong time can have unpleasant consequences. It is safest to start cutting back yews when they are dormant. So think about what you want as its finished shape.. Late winter would be the ideal time to start pruning a yew. To make a yew tree bushier and fuller, just clip off the outer growth. This tip pruning stimulates new growth and makes the tree look rounder and fuller. Be careful not to trim the top off a yew though until it has reached the height you want plus a few inches. If you do, you’ll find that the tree doesn’t regain height very quickly. Do however prune out dead wood and distorted limbs that will spoil the shape though.. :SUNsmile:
               
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              • Mike Allen

                Mike Allen Gardener

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                The photo suggests that Yew, Taxus baccata, has been there quite some time. Yew is a slow grower. If I may mention. It is poisonous especially the berries. The latter have an attractiveness all of their own, brightly coloured, with a hollowed out center. Usually Yew trees are a familiar feature of church yards. Due in part to their slowness of growth, they have a long life.
                 
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                • pigeon

                  pigeon Apprentice Gardener

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                  Thanks for the replies everyone!

                  @Marley Farley - it was like this when we moved in recently - I’m a little surprised, as the previous owners kept everything else in the garden well pruned - but this yew just seemed to get a little scraggly and out of hand.

                  We will definitely clip it annually from now on, hopefully it will fill out and get a little bushier/fuller.

                  Unfortunately we went out and pruned it before I saw your reply about it being best to prune in late winter - but from what I’ve read it should be ok as long as we don’t prune in late autumn so it gets the chance to harden off... hopefully it’ll be ok!

                  Here it is now. It’s not perfect, but it’s tidier anyway. We tried to keep it to a triangular tree shape, and trimmed the bottom branches back to the trunk so we can plant under it as @Perki and @Gail_68 suggested.

                  We did trim maybe a foot or two off the top to keep it manageable, it definitely can’t get any taller as there are cables running to the house above it!

                  984E9F92-BF9D-48A0-BBFE-EF1C7877E115.png
                   

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                  • Marley Farley

                    Marley Farley Affable Admin! Staff Member

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                    @pigeon it does look so much better for it too. I am sure it will be fine. My S in L has two enormous pots with a yew inveach and he has trained into a beautiful cone shape. Will take a pic when I go over next. :SUNsmile:
                     
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                    • Gail_68

                      Gail_68 Guest

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                      Hi pigeon sorry for being late on replying but it does look nice now mate and a job well done...looks a lot smaller also [​IMG]
                       
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