One of the first jobs for January is winter pruning. While waiting until a plant is entirely dormant is good to do, it's not always possible, especially in a large garden open to visitors. That means we often prune earlier, such as with our roses. We also have to think carefully about a plants structure and form too. Here's my guide to pruning yew trees.

Here are the best tools for pruning.

How to prune yew hedge

How to prune a yew hedge

Pruning isn’t just about improving flowering. In January it can very much be about improving form, too. We have created a new design in our yew hedging that could be re-created in any garden. Our shapes are simple, appropriate to the history of the garden and the principle of the approach is simple too. Use long growth to create a pattern and cut hard around it to develop shapes. You can see the yew hedge we have all fallen in love with below.

Watch how to prune a yew hedge and box hedge

We have recently changed our box care cutting regimes, tackling this job in the cold months too while always avoiding extreme heat and very damp conditions, meaning less risk of scorch and blight. Winter is busier while June is, enjoyably, a bit quieter.

When to prune your yew hedge

If you are pruning and cutting, try to fit your winter tasks in during January and early February. It’s been proven that in recent years, and in many areas, birds are nesting earlier. Look out for birds nesting and avoid disturbance from mid-February right to the end of summer. Consider leaving decaying branches on trees where their failure does not present a danger to anything or anybody. We have an old apple tree in the kitchen garden that woodpeckers nested in last year. The joy of watching adults feeding their young in your garden could become another of the new year’s highlights.

Read Rosie's previous columns here


Rosie FylesHead Gardener of Chiswick House

Rosie Fyles is Head Gardener of Chiswick House, in London. Rosie is a Trustee of Silent Space, a charity that promotes peaceful time in green spaces.