Want to plant a hedge using hicks yew which would suit conditions, ie (shaded area, well drained soil and formal looking in guelph) but I noticed that berries are poisonous. ..oops I have dogs and grandchildren…can u suggest an alternative pls.
Thank you for contacting the Toronto master gardeners with your inquiry.
You are correct in being cautious when planting yews around dogs that love to chew plant material. All parts, except the flesh of the red berries, contain taxine A and B, a complex of alkaloids which is rapidly absorbed when ingested. Though the berries themselves are harmless, the seed within is highly toxic.
You mention a shaded area, does this imply that you are planting in full shade or part shade. Part shade refers to plants receiving a minium of 4 hours of sunlight.
If this is the case then cedar may be a good option for you. Like yews they can be trimmed to look like a formal hedge. You may wish to read our Gardening Guide on Evergreens Suitable for Hedging which gives specific growing instructions for this shrub.
Lastely, before planting any shrub I would check with your veterinarian or the Humane Society for toxicity of the various plants since in the case of some plants that pose a danger, only a particular part of the plant in question will be toxic — i.e., the seed, leaves etc.