Front yard nicening continues

I kinda hate garden projects right now, at least the ones that I think might be interesting or informative as a blog post. I hate them because thinking about the steps involved, taking photos of everything that may or may not be important, and sort of writing the post in my head as I go along really slows things down.

Today I continue with some front yard gardening that I did last weekend and posted about earlier this week, and do some pruning!   (Yes, I made up the word "nicening".)


Another reason I hate projects now is I often do them during the "bad" part of the day to take photos: when there's strong sunlight. It makes it difficult to take good or interesting photos, especially when there is both direct sunlight and shade in the same shot. So the photos end up being pretty much blah.

These yews, they confound me. I love the look of yews that get to sprawl and grow however they want. They get nice bushy "arms" and just look so natural. Mine are just starting to get that look.

Unfortunately, this means I have to prune them. As you can see they're starting to block the window, and they're encroaching on the walkway to the front door -- so they have to be cut back.

I'm not a "grab the hedge shears and sculpt this shrub" type of gardener. Not only because my hedge shears are terrible, but because I hate the manicured look. I'm no Pearl Fryar (this is worth clicking if you don't know who Pearl is).

I prune these shrubs like I prune all of my others, with my trusty hand pruners, one branch at a time:

One great thing about yews is that it's almost impossible to hurt them by pruning, or to prune them "wrong".  They have so many dormant buds and can put out new growth at almost any time it seems, that any bare spots you create are quickly filled.

These have put on some new growth, and are still actively growing, so this may not be the ideal time to do this pruning. I may have to repeat it in a month or two, but we'll see.

I just grab a too-long branch and cut it back to where I think it should be. Then repeat a few dozen times. I've learned that it's best to put the cuttings right into the wheelbarrow. It might seem like throwing them onto the lawn would let you move faster, but then you're left with some cleanup, and moving fast while pruning shrubs is not always the best idea.

You want time to step back and review your progress every once in a while. Here I've just done the part under the window. I'm not sure why I started in the middle, other than it's the most critical part -- the branches that were starting to block the window had to go first.

Here's the job half-finished:

It doesn't look like I've removed that much, but that's because most of the growth was forward instead of up. I've taken 12-18" (30-45cm) off the front of the plants:

You can see how close to the sidewalk they were getting as you moved closer toward the front door.

A few more minutes and it's job done:

Still has a somewhat "natural" look although it doesn't have the long "arms" that I like, but I'm never going to be able to have those on these shrubs -- they're just too close to the house and walkway. (I could probably cut these shrubs a bit lower -- they might be slightly too high still.)

There are a couple more shrubs out front that I need to prune too: some euonymous that the deer prune during the winter:

(This is where the sun and shade start creating photo problems, at least in my opinion.)

There are some really long branches on these, but you can't tell in the photo above because they've fallen down behind the plants:

This is about 6' long.

They will climb anything they can get a grip on, and they'd be almost to the roofline if I hadn't pulled them off earlier in the year:

The first of the two plants is easier to prune, since it determines the final height for the second. I'll just remove the long branches, and anything that's hanging down or sticking out too much:

A few years ago I was going to remove these shrubs completely as I didn't like their look. Instead I removed all of the branches and leaves from the lower "trunks", exposing their nice structure:

I really like these now, even though I need to remove new growth down here a couple of times a year. It's worth it to me as it makes these common shrubs look much more interesting.

The second euonymous is a little more difficult as I now have to ensure that it ends up being the same size as the first one. It still only takes a few minutes to get the look I want, which again is more of a natural, non-clipped look.

And that's the end of my front-yard pruning.

There is another shrub out here that I never need to prune. Actually, I would never think of pruning it, as I want it to gain a little more size.

It's my 'Pee-Wee' oakleaf hydrangea, and although I never have touched it with my pruners, the deer prune this for me at least once a year. This recent damage really makes me angry, as I thought I was past the danger period for this year.

Looking on the bright side though, the plant is much bushier now than it would have been if the deer left the pruning to me. Perhaps someday it will be large enough that I won't care if they take a few bites.


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Christine @ The Gardening Blog  – (May 14, 2011 at 4:26 PM)  

I like the yews!!
I know what you mean about sometimes hating gardening projects - I have lots of stuff I have to do in the garden that noone wants to hear about, so am battling to garden and blog! Your posts however are always useful as I learn from you.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (May 14, 2011 at 7:09 PM)  

This may sound funny, but yews seem pretty exotic to me. I love the lush green look.

:: Bamboo and More ::

Anonymous –   – (May 14, 2011 at 10:36 PM)  

Following your progress and not bored. Handy with the pruner, and you have deer to finish off the job too. How comes the yews never get pruned by them. Here, they eat them down to nothing, even those right at a home's front door.

Alan  – (May 15, 2011 at 6:42 AM)  

I had no idea deer would eat yews! Maybe they don't here because all of them are planted right up against every house in the front yard, and the deer haven't gotten bold enough to get to them yet? I don't know.

Exotic yews? It's all about climate, isn't it?

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