We cut back, we thin, and then:
It gives us confidence to cut because we know what to
Right: A dense
yew (Taxus x media 'Densiformis') before we cut to reduce
it and restrict it.
("Another yew?!" you say?
If you're tired of yews,
check out some globe arborvitaes
undergoing this same process.)
Below: That yew, with its front cut back
and thinned. Back portion is being thinned before being
(These steps for simple restriction are
interchangeable. In this case thinning first to remove wood such as
that in the inset photo removes very thick stubs that would
confound our shears.)
Below: Two other yews on this same
property, right after being cut back.
(We apologize that there is no "before" picture. We forgot. These
shrubs were as fluffy as their sister plant at the top of this
page. They also hung out almost a foot onto the pavement.)
Below: One year later. Inset: Lots of
breaks coming even 'way deep. (Note, at the arrow: Dead tips are
not related to the pruning.)
(Apologies for inconsistent camera angle. Just a memory failure on
shooting day. We're not hiding anything!)
Time now to cut these shrubs back even further. We would have
liked to do that from the start. We did not choose the
cut-all-at-once option because a party was about to happen at the
house. We did not want to leave the plants totally bare for party
day. In this two-step we are now at a point where breaks will dress
the stubs and fill in quickly.
Below: Here is another result of cutting,
waiting, and then cutting all the way back only after the plant
produced breaks. That story is at To cut boldly: Pyramidal yews.
It can happen to
yew, it can happen to arb...
Two overgrown globe arborvitaes:
Below, left: First one cut back, the other's
appearance still unchanged.
Below, right: Then the other.
Below: All the foliage had become
concentrated at the branch tips, and arbs don't sprout from bare
wood. So we took a deep breath and made our hard cuts back to tiny
green twigs and barely-there green nubs.
Here's the one-year grow-back, repeating the "before" for