The BIG yew project

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698
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Location
Western NC
USDA Zone
7a
#1
Last year this time I talked my next door neighbor into letting me dig up three old yews growing in his yard. These are probably 30-40 years old and have been neglected for ages. Since he has two hounds that chew on everything he was very happy to let me dig them even though I wanted to wait a year. So yesterday I went over lopped off the long branches on all three plants in preparation for digging up the first one. The other two I plan to let back bud in the ground and then dig them next year. Here are photos of them last spring.

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Ok, so after lunch I took two Alleve in anticipation of pain and gathered up my chainsaw, reciprocating saw, pruners, come along, shovel, and Root Slayer and headed next door. I raked back the leaves from around the tree and using my Root Slayer cut a circle around it at about 8” out. When I ran into a root too big for the Root Slayer I used the reciprocating saw with a long pruning blade to cut through them. As soon as I had made it all the way round I grabbed one of the long stems I had left and pulled the tree back sharply amd was rewarded with a loud POP. With that one little maneuver the whole tree rolled over and it was out of the hole! All told it didn’t take me 30 minutes to get it out of the ground. I knocked off some loose soil and then cut the remains of the tap root flush with the bottom of the rootball.

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With it out of the ground I muscled it into my wife’s garden wagon and hauled it back to my yard for the second part of the job. Look for that in part two.

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Messages
698
Likes
611
Location
Western NC
USDA Zone
7a
#2
Part two begins with me hosing all the soil from the roots. As you can see from the photos there are a lot fo big ones but a sizable number of smaller roots too. I pruned the long ones back so they would fit in the 18”x18” wooden box. C19A7C8E-A484-44D6-A4BD-5DB3BA9B6FC0.jpeg 42A1723B-983A-4A28-97FD-F467A01FCDB1.jpeg

Once they were in I tightened up the tie down wires and was ready for the bonsai soil.

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For my bonsai soil I used a 50:50 mix of pumice and Permatill (haydite). I figure this stuff will drain very well and will hold enough moisture for the yew. I poured it into the box and worked it in with an oversized bamboo chopstick.

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I tried to leave foliage on each branch and just wonder whether I left too much on some of them? For now I have the tree sitting in the shade in my driveway but after a few days will transition it into part sun and later on full sun, or at least as close to what passes for full sun in my yard. Next year depending on how well this one does I will rinse and repeat with the other two.

All told I wasn’t at this for more than two hours and most of that time was getting tools out and putting them away. I don’t want to get too cocky about it since I still have two more in the ground but I worked harder collecting two wisteria last month than this one yew today. All the horror stories I have previously read on this forum had me dreading this project but now I am ready for next spring. I think having all the right tools made the job easier too. That battery powered reciprocating saw was worth every penny. So now go out and find a yew for your collection,
 

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