I hate yew.

Ever feel like a hamster on a wheel?  Me too.  Especially this past weekend.  My husband and I have a real knack for making more work for ourselves when there’s already plenty to be had.  We spent Saturday out working in the yard.  We planted, and laid drip hoses.  We put down sod.  Round about knocking off time (for normal people) we decided IT WAS TIME.  We got out the sawzall and put on some gloves, we gathered our daughters and then, one by one, we took out four bushes.  WHY?  Because I hate yew.  My husband hates yew.  And truth be told, our daughters hate yew too.

YEW BUSHES. They may look harmless, but they aren’t.  They’re hell in a bush.  They grow at an astronomical rate, don’t flower, yet feature poisonous, juicy-looking red berries just BEGGING TO BE STUCK IN CHILDRENS MOUTHS.  We found this out the hard way, of course.  Back in Philly we had two yew bushes in our front yard, which you know sponsored a long & costly trip to the ER.  Fortunately our daughter survived.  The same cannot be said for those bushes.

So what did we do?  We sold our now-yew-bush-free house to another couple, moved to Maine and bought a “new” (really olde) house with not one nor two but THIRTEEN (13) FREAKING YEW BUSHES THE SIZE OF THE TEACUPS YOU RIDE DOWN IN DISNEY WORLD.

When we first moved in I tolerated the yews.  Our daughters are now old enough not to eat the berries and I thought they added a bit of class, looking all sculpted and dignified.  But that was back when we were paying a landscaping company big $$$ to do the work for us.  Once winter hit I couldn’t have cared less, the bushes were sleeping.  But once they woke up last spring, well-rested and PRIMED FOR GROWTH, that’s when our relationship soured.

Contrary to my terrible hair cutting skills, I am a pretty decent bush trimmer.  Give me an electric hedge clipper and an hour and I can make a shrub look good.  But shaping up our overgrown yew bushes all last year would have kept a pro gardener busy for months, let alone an amateur plagued w/ meniere’s disease.  B/c of my wacky ear, each bush-trimming session left me in a tailspin for days.  Their gargantuan proportions, requiring a ladder (b/c of the height) and hours & hours of grueling, arms-aching effort in the hot summer sun..?? This year I was NOT WILLING TO REPEAT.

SO on Saturday, we cut down the first 4 yew.  These of course would be the four largest, facing the street, in direct view of all the neighbors.  I am not sure, but I believe they think we have lost our minds.

YES, it does look a little *different*  Perhaps even a bit odd.  Frankly even if you do hate yew bushes (like we do) you can get accustomed to the way they creep out and squat all over the space.  So that when they’re gone it looks a little bare.  But not for long … Sunday was spent extracting the first two yew bush stumps.

Yew bush stump extraction is a cross between tree removal, primitive dentistry, and archeology.  Lots & lots of frustrated digging, some sawing, a lot of pulling, poking, prodding, and finally YANKING, while sprawled in the scalding hot sun.  Which wouldn’t be quite so bad if we weren’t doing all of this parked directly curbside, so every man woman and child driving past could sllooooowwww on down to take a look.  Granted, it is sort of interesting, but it’s also expensive (we had to buy a chainsaw, HEAVY DUTY CHAIN and new wood-eating sawzall blades).  I now have fifth degree sunburn on the back of my neck and upper shoulders and my husband has an OWWBOW (not Elbow) that never ever stops hurting. So basically, lots of sweat, onlookers, physical exhaustion and PAIN. x2.

Here’s what it looks like now.

We planted two flowering tree-like shrubs called Wine & Roses.  They have deep purple foliage, bright pink blossoms and LOVE THE SUN.  The grass seed (now hidden beneath straw mulch) should start sprouting soon, and the gaping brown holes will be gone.  Next weekend?  The other 2 stumps to the left of the door.  We’re planning on building a flower bed there to mirror the one we already have to the right – extending the whole thing around the corner of the house on the driveway side and laying a matching brick path to boot.  Of course, that will take more than a weekend. Or two. or ten.  Since it will require removing another 5 bushes.  But, like I said, we have a knack for creating more work.  Right?

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48 thoughts on “I hate yew.

    1. Good to hear we’re not the only ones! I try hard to finish tasks before beginning others, but sometimes (as in the case of yews) you gotta take the bull by the horns. Or the bush by the root?

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  1. my personal hate is the rodedendron. Sure it looks great when it’s flowering, but it gives nothing to the natural inhabitants. It feeds nothing, poisons the soil, and takes over everything. Some plants just suck – the life out of a garden.

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    1. Tooty, sounds like the rhododendron is truly a helluva bush too. I never knew! The one we have seems so serene, nestled, looking beautiful and innocuous.. Little did I know….

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  2. WOWZA! That does sound like a ton of work! You guys did a great job, though – it’s looking very nice! I’m sure with the time you’ll save in the long run it will all prove worth it yew, er, too! 🙂

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  3. You finally bit the bullet that we put off biting for so-o-o-o many years, preferring to clip all-l-l-l 13 yews every year. I’m glad you replaced them with beautiful bushes. It does look bare in front, and everyone is gawking at 1) the insanity you folks used to get rid of the monsters and 2)how huge the house really is. When Dad cut down the elms that towered over the house, he planted young bushes needing time to fill the empty space. That long amount of time required extra yews to fill the empty spaces. And time progressed, and life lived, and we forgot about the reason for planting the now Halloween-monsters in the 1st place. It took your fresh eyes to envision the younger landscape of different bushes. Thank you for bringing youthfulness to the yard. It will grow with your girls. Keep the pictures of now so that 30 yrs from now they can remember when. Great job. For your burns: dab on tea brewed strong at room temperature; repeatedly apply. The burn will not blister nor peel but will soak into a pain-free tan. Kate

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    1. LOVED reading this Kate! The shock has worn off, I think – one neighbor rolled her window down this morning and yelled out LOOKS FABULOUS! I’ll take it!

      PS: Thanks for the sunburn remedy – I’ll have to try that out!

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    1. Trust me, C – you wouldn’t be foaming as much in person. Once we enlisted you in all the work, you’d just be sweating yer buns off!! LOL The flower pots sounds fab — once the grass grows in, I think we’ll see about that!

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  4. I also hate yew bushes and am so happy for you. We had some at our old house and I attempted to trim them like a bonsai tree, which was quite hilarious. Wherever we end up, if there are yew bushes, they will be extracted forthwith.

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  5. Sure sounds like a major project, with a lot more to do. Maybe you could let the Boy Scouts practice their hatchet skills on your remaining yews. Or import a family of beavers.

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  6. The yews on your property remind me of Edward Scissorhands. I can’t believe there are 13! Well, 2 down and 11 to go. I feel your pain…my husband broke his shovel digging out the six Japanese boxwoods that grew around our deck. It took me an hour to dig out one huge stump and its roots. I’m so glad they are gone. I hated them as much as you hate your yews. Great job digging out those stumps. I love the Wine and Roses!

    Who needs a gym when we have yard work?!

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    1. Thanks so much!!

      It’s called The Dole House after its original owner, Daniel Dole. From our research, it appears that Dole’s father-in-law Moses Pierson built the house ~1770 for Dole and his daughter Sarah Pierson. From the similarities in the two structures, we also believe Pierson was the builder of The Tate House, another historic home here dating to 1755. The Tate House is just down the street and has the distinction of being a National Historic Landmark. It’s also open to the public as a museum. My husband and daughters have toured the place and the similarities between our houses are striking. Pretty fascinating stuff.

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  7. Yes, those Yews has to go. I admire your family’s determination , creativity and hard work to create a beautiful landscape as well as getting rid of those yews . Best of all you all work as a team. Go team Maine! I enjoy planting and landscaping but it involves hard work . I remember when we bought our house 4 years ago how annoyed I was with the eye-sore looking shrubs in our front yard. It took me a while due to my back issues to pull them out and replace them with palm trees. I also made 2 ponds for my son in our backyard. They look great during Summer. Can’t wait to see the final landscaping when all the Yews are gone. Keep me posted. God bless you and your family. Thank you for sharing and thank you for visiting my blog.

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    1. IT, my husband is sharing your back pain!! Good work on your own yard too! I bet the palms look amazing. I’ll definitely post more pics as the work progresses. Thanks always for your kind comments.

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  8. Never enough puns! I rather like the look of the yews, but I’m decidedly against yard work (yay, apartment!), so I fully support these bushes that actually flower and won’t take over the whole yard if left alone for a month.

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    1. Yeah I liked them too, but I couldn’t stand the work involved in their maintenance! The grass is growing already — unfortunately last weekend’s rain put the kibosh on removal of the next 2 stumps.. my poor aching body did NOT complain.

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    1. Hey, thanks!! The former owners put the date at 1740, but after 2 yrs research we’ve yet to find evidence of that anywhere. The closest date we’ve found is 1770. So to be conservative, we’ve been going w/ that. If you’d like to read more about the work we’ve done, feel free to check out The Dole House posts!

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  9. I used to have terrible bushes in front of my condo. They weren’t Yes, but had most of the same stupid traits. They were so overgrown we could no longer look out of the first floor windows, and our address was covered completely within a week of weekly trimmings. IT took a lifetime of emails and photographs documentting the security hazard those bushes gave us, but in the end, I won and they yanked them.

    I spent every Monday last year getting rid of the roots the landscaping company left behind after the bushes were pulled. A year later, I am still yanking out roots left behind. I can so relate to what you went through.

    I can’t wait to see the new lanscaping, once it is complete! I am super excited for you.

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    1. Thanks GG!! We are getting excited to do more. It promises to be a work-in-progress for a while, but I think it’ll be well worth the effort. 🙂

      PS: Nice job getting your own bushes out. People keep stopping to tell me their own tales of bush woe. It’s been pretty entertaining!

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  10. Gosh 13 of the little suckers. You’/Yew sure have some work ahead of yew. They do look kinda nice in their rounded trimmed shape. I had no idea what they were as I don’t think we have them here in Australia.

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  11. Nice to meet you.I came from the island traveler’s blog.
    Very great blog and I like your daily life because I also like gardening and planting vegetables with my children.
    Thank you for continued help.

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  12. I feel yew’r pain. We have 5 ugly yews in our front yard as well. Hubby and I will be attempting our first extraction on 2 of them tomorrow. Some local yew lovers have been telling me to just cut them back harsh and reshape them but I think stumpy lookin yews won’t make me any happier. Seeing as our Durango is such a gas hog I am going to make it work for it and put it to use in our attempt. As redneckie as it seems I’m willing to take that on as opposed to the digging. Will keep you posted and try to take some before and afters. Creating a perrenial garden in yews place.

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    1. Karen, you are so funny. Really hope your extraction went smoother than ours. We did Stump No. 3 on Saturday – it took so long and was so horrible, I didn’t have the heart to push for stump no. 4 — esp. given that Sunday was FATHER’S DAY! I am secretly hoping it will magically dissolve in fear, but we both know that ain’t happening..

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  13. Yes indeed, we did conquer the dreadful Yews. I’m so happy. It definately wasn’t an easy task by any means but worth the effort. My Durango proved to not be a good match and most of it was hand digging and sawing out roots 2 feet under that where the size of my wrist.

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    1. WOOT! Down w/ the yews!!

      We also enlisted the help of our truck, but like you, it took massive digging and root cutting to get the thing to budge even a tiny bit — even with the 4Runner in 4 wheel drive. Uuughhh.. This is why people pay good money to OTHER PEOPLE to do the removal. Still have stump no. 4 to go..

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  14. I’m a little late joining in on the comments! I was googling “how to make an old yew look pretty”. We bought our house in 2010 and have removed 10 yews that were likely planted in 1968. I decided to simply try just cutting them off at the ground level. Of course that required cutting off many branches to get to the ground level. We did four of them at one time one year. It looked like a yew massacre here. We did five more that were all in a row the next year. Then one that was separate on the front of the house. Believe it or not, they did not try to grow back! I planted roses next to the stumps and no one knows otherwise. I have one yew left and I’m thinking of trying to make it look like bonsai. I’ll give my hand to that for a while before I whack the think down.

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