10 Reasons to Choose Yew Hedging

5 February 2021

Yew has a reputation as the King of Hedges, and it’s not hard to see why. Planted for thousands of years throughout the UK and Europe, Taxus Baccata has a huge range of features and benefits that make it a wonderful garden hedge and have led to its longstanding popularity.

Our top 10 reasons to plant a Yew hedge

1. Evergreen

Yew has dense evergreen foliage that makes a great, lasting canvas for your other garden plants and provides both privacy screening and noise reduction.

2. Low Maintenance

Taxus baccata is a low maintenance hedging plant, and you can keep your hedge in top shape by pruning just once a year. However, if you find yourself faced with an overgrown Yew hedge, it can also tolerate hard pruning.

3. Environmentally Beneficial 

As a native evergreen, Taxus can have a positive impact on the surrounding environment, adding to the local biodiversity.

4. Whatever the Weather 

Yew hedging is not fussy about its planting site, as long as there is good drainage (it hates having wet feet), it will thrive in most soils and sites, including a shaded position.

5. Flexible

Yew hedges look great at any height, with the option of a 1 metre formal hedge or a grand 4 metre screen, you can use Yew in any sized garden.

6. Wildlife Friendly

Hugely popular with wildlife, Taxus baccata hedges offer both food and shelter for a variety of birds. Robins, Waxwings and Jays enjoy feasting on the bright red arils and Wrens often make themselves at home in the dense foliage.

7. All Root Types

Yew hedge plants are available in all root types, with pot grown, cell grown and instant troughs available all year. Yew is one of the few evergreen species that comes in bare root form and, unlike most other root ball species, you can plant Taxus baccata root balls at any time of the year, with the exception of the hottest months.

8. Long Living

Yew is renowned for being an extremely long living species and there are Yew trees still standing throughout the UK today that were planted hundreds of years ago. One of the most recognised groups of Yew trees is in Painswick, with over 100 trees still standing that were planted back in the 1700s. However, the oldest Yew tree on record is The Fortingall Yew, found in Scotland – this specimen is thought to be between 1,500-3000 years old!

9. Versatile

Taxus baccata hedge plants are hugely versatile when it comes to shaping. They can be used for formal, neat displays but can also be easily manipulated into unusual shapes and curves, including cloud pruning. Similarly Yew makes great topiary.

10. Slow Growth

Although it has a slow growth rate, Yew hedging will often achieve between 20-40cm of growth per year.

Facts you probably don’t know about Yew hedging

  • In the past it was thought that planting a Yew tree or hedge along the boundary of your property would protect you from evil spirits, however harming a Yew tree would have the opposite effect and result in bad luck for your whole family.
  • In the last few years, scientists have discovered that a chemical found in Yew, known as taxol, can be used in the treatment of cancer.
  • The wood of Yew trees was commonly used in medieval times for the construction of longbows and thousands of trees were felled during this time. Yew bows continued to be used throughout history in Europe until the introduction of firearms.
  • Many different religions and nationalities had conflicting views about the ‘power’ of Yew trees; with Romans believing they grew in hell and so were a bad omen; the Norse and Celt peoples believing that it could be planted as a form of protection against witchcraft and death, and Christians believing that Yew poison could protect the dead, which is why Yew trees are still commonly found planted in churchyards today.

If you have any questions about this topic, or anything else relating to your garden, please tweet us @best4hedging and we’ll be happy to help.