Replacing old Fairview Yews

(Question)

Hi,

I have 7 Overgrown and out of shape Fairview Yews in my front yard. We would like to replace them – planning to dig them out, add new soil and buy new plants.
How different are Dense Yews from Fairview Yews in terms of growth, size and appearance? We wanted the same soft and “floppy” appearance.
I have difficulty finding good size Fairview Yews, and local Costco has very nice size Dense Yews at a reasonable price.

I live in Burlington, Ontario.

Thanks you in advance.

 

(Answer)

Thanks for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.

First of all, the difference between Dense Yews (Taxus x media ‘Densiformis’) and Fairview Yews (Taxus x media ‘Fairview’) is relatively minimal; both are hybrid crosses of English yews (Taxus baccata) and Japanese yews (Taxus cuspidata) which combine the “ornamental excellence of English yews with the winter hardiness of Japanese yews”. While both have outwardly ascending branches, the Dense yews have a more compact and spreading habit than the Fairview, which is more vase-shaped. [Please see links below].

Secondly, you suggest that the Fairview yews on your property are “overgrown and out-of-shape”. Have you ever pruned them? Yews can tolerate heavy pruning, are able to grow from old wood (unlike most conifers) and with some patience, can be easily rejuvenated into whatever shape you desire. Perhaps you should consider rejuvenating what you have before replacing them. You mention that you like the “soft and floppy appearance” of the Fairview yews. Yews are quite slow-growing and long-lived plants; your yews are already established and sizable; you can easily amend the soil with compost–no need to dig or replace your soil.

If you need advice about how to go about rejuvenating your yews, consult with people from your local nursery; there are also many sites on-line that can offer helpful advice. [And since you live in Burlington, perhaps the Royal Botanical Gardens has a course on pruning conifers]. The early spring is a good time to prune, before the new growth begins. Yews can be pruned again in June and throughout the growing season until August. Once your yews have been ‘rejuvenated’, shearing them on an annual basis will keep them in shape.

Good luck with whatever you choose to do with your yews.

References:

 

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=f860

http://www.connonnurseries.com/plant/Taxus-x-media-Fairview

http://www.connonnurseries.com/plant/Taxus-x-media-Densiformis