Q: Our 30-year-old English yew has begun to turn brown in places. Is it suffering from a disease or simply past its prime?

—Jan & Don Erickson, Kenosha, WI

A: Roger Cook replies: Yews are pretty tough. Only some drastic change could explain why a healthy plant is turning brown.

My first question is, do you have any deer? When they feed on yews, the damaged branches sometimes turn brown. Also, yews are sensitive to altered watering patterns. Have you changed how often or how much you water your lawn, the location of a downspout, or anything else that might have reduced or increased the amount of water this plant gets?

If none of this has occurred, have a certified arborist check the bush for disease or insects.
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