Thursday, July 18, 2013

Trimming a monster yew hedge

We have two monster yew hedges in our back yard. I love them for the way they define the yard and set its bounds with green. Still, they're massive and the one alongside the garage has just gotten impossibly huge. Try as we might, we just haven't been able to get it trimmed to a manageable size.

I took a monster yew hedge out, in another life, and lived to regret it. In some ways it was the right decision, because it was a monster yew in the wrong place, but when the hedge went, so did the cheerful bird song in the mornings. And the replacement plants never quite did well, never quite looked right either. I learned that some things take decades to grow and can't simply be replaced overnight. And so ever since, I've said to myself, that if I had another house, I wouldn't make drastic changes the first year. And so, for the most part, I haven't.

We've owned Pugsley now for almost two years exactly. I think as I write this, on Sunday, the day after tomorrow, the 16th, will be two years. And today, we cut back one of the monster yews. It's an amazingly beautiful yew, matched only in amazingness and sheer prodigalness by another hedge at right angles. Together they define the back of the yard, as you can see in the three photos below, panning from right to left.

The yew in question runs alongside the garage and, as you can see in the photo below, is gargantuan. 

Despite a fairly severe trimming last June, by September it had rebounded and seemingly doubled again in size. It is much taller than I am and a good 10' deep. It runs right up to the garage wall and is virtually impossible to trim. Besides which, I've recently found increasing numbers of vines climbing up inside it and I know that in the next year or two we will have to paint the garage, which will not be possible with the current state of things.

So, when Capel decided to rent a hedge trimmer this weekend, I thought, it's now or never. And broached the subject of a drastic trim. He agreed, much more readily than I thought he would. And, what's more, he did the whole thing, start to finish.

We agreed we needed a good 18" distance between the hedge and the garage, and that the entire hedge needed to be a foot lower, to allow room for 6" of growth back. And away he went. The first cut, along the back, revealed a beautiful set of yew branches underneath, with plenty of vigor for springing back from a severe cut.

Note the green sprouts from the very bottom of the trunk. And, in other places, green sprouts coming directly out of the branches. This is a good sign, and means that once the upper growth is trimmed away, exposing the lower branches to sunlight, they will fill in, with new, green growth.

They're amazingly beautiful in their sweep.

Not so, a rather nasty garage wall in need of some work.

Here, a few photos, mid work. This one gives you a sense of the hedge's height up close. To take this photo, I held the camera as high as I could hold it and pointed down.

And now, the finished work, showing four beautiful yew bushes. And the stone wall underneath it, too, is finally visible. I'm already thinking about the shade plants I can put underneath. And when the hedge springs back, there will be lots of photos, you can bet on it.

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