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Reducing a large Lilac bush

My Lilac bush is approx' 7-8 feet deep, which is encroaching far too much into the garden. Can I reduce the depth?,  if so, when would be a good time to do it and how do I go about it please? I would add, that this grows in height, quite rapidly and has never flowered due to the fact that I keep the height down. T i a


  • You could lop it down now but be aware that it will probably throw up new suckers .
    If you don't allow it to flower, it may be an idea to dig the whole tree out ( perhaps not simple given the size ) and use the space for something else.
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 9,642
    The normal time to prune lilacs is immediately after flowering, and lightly (just behind the old flower heads), around June. If it's previously been clipped so that it's twiggy and hedge-like or a big blob shape, it might be better to take out the oldest third or so of the branches right down to the base, then another third next year and the final third the year after to allow it to regain a more shrub-like appearance, and you can do that in winter when it's dormant.
    To be honest though, I don't see any point in keeping a lilac if you don't let it flower, because they're rather dull the rest of the time (in my view at least). Could you take it out and plant something more suited to the available space? There are smaller/dwarf forms of lilac that might do better.

    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • MeomyeMeomye Posts: 882
    Thank you for replies, If I am honest I have only kept the Lilac for privacy from my neighbour as I don't want to see straight through to them (I only have a 3ft chain link fence between us) I am not particularly fond of the Lilac and have considered removing it. Do you know if it would be very difficult to remove as it does send out a lot of suckers? T i a
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,023
    There are better shrubs to choose from if you're pruning it and not even getting  flowers.  Any standard evergreen hedging plant  would be better, because hacking it to keep it in the space would be easier and would give all year round privacy  :)
    Is it shady? If so, some of the Viburnums would be better, or Osmanthus. I have O. burkwoodii, which is excellent, and easy to maintain. Tiny, creamy scented flowers in late winter/spring. 
    In a sunnier site, there's probably more choice.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • We took several large lilacs out when we moved in. Not an easy task but not overly difficult. The roots weren’t terribly deep so a bit of digging and rocking the rootstock soon had them out. I think we also used loppers on some stubborn roots. We have had the odd sucker reappearing but not too many and easily nipped off when spotted
     If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”—Marcus Tullius Cicero
    East facing, top of a hill clay-loam, cultivated for centuries (7 years by me). Birmingham
  • MeomyeMeomye Posts: 882
    Thank you @Fairygirl and @Butterfly66 for replies, it is in a sunny spot Fairygirl, so I will check out what is good for that position. Do you think now would be a good time of year to remove the Lilac?  Butterfly, good to know it is not too difficult to remove thank you. 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,023
    If you're removing something - 'when you feel like doing it' is the right time  :)

    It's certainly easier when the ground is damper - easier to get a spade in  ;)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • MeomyeMeomye Posts: 882
    Thanks @Fairygirl, The reason I asked about timing was because I was wondering if I needed to get something in there before it got too cold and had time to settle in, or whether I should wait until Spring?? 
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