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Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2010 3:10 pm
Location: minnesota

Pruning tall and thin lilacs

Our property is surrounded on three sides with lilac 'bushes', but they are so tall and thinned out that they seem more like small trees. The 'trunks' on some of them are four inches in diameter and the height of the bushes probably exceeds 15 ft!

We love the privacy that they provide, but assume that they have been allowed to grow out of control for some time. Is the proper action to cut 1/3 of the bushes down to the ground each year (for the next three years). Is there any benefit or allowance for cutting the others 'half way' down at this point?

The flowering is nice, but I'm more interested in how long it will be before we have "6 ft. bushes" lining our property again. I'm not sure that I really want to do this, but I think I'll have to. Just want to do it right.

Thanks for your input.


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Senior Member
Posts: 102
Joined: Sat Dec 19, 2009 5:50 pm
Location: Bucks County, PA

I like doing the 1/3 each year, and it looks better to take each cut down to the ground. I also think you could do 1/2 this year and 1/2 next year. You'll get a lot of suckers after pruning, and those will be your 'new' plant.

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

It's going to be very difficult to keep your lilac a 6' shrub, because that is not the size it "wants" to be. It isn't a shrub that responds well to being sheared like hedge plants. There is a dwarf Korean lilac bush that stays 4 -5' tall at maturity.

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