This was May of last year. It seems very far away right now! 6 more weeks, though. Yay!
Before the 6” of snow
that we got last night and today, I actually had some time this week to get a
few more of my spring chores done! One that has been on my list ever since we
moved here was to get the lilac bush pruned. It is right in front, between the
driveway and the…gravel place where my husband parks his truck. (Would that be
the second driveway?) It is big and bushy and very hard to see past when you’re
backing out of either driveway.
Besides, several of the
branches looked pretty bad at the base, and were only producing flowers at the
top ends. This brings me to the timing of my pruning job. Normally, you would
wait to prune a lilac bush until the end of June—soon after it has finished
blooming. That’s because lilacs form blossoms on current year growth. In other
words, the flowers blooming this spring were formed last summer. So if you go
about cutting off branches right now, you are depriving yourself of blossoms
here in another month or so. However, I was doing what some call a
“rejuvenation pruning;” essentially—taking out older wood to allow room for new
growth. In order to do that, I needed to be able to see what I was doing! It
was therefore quite helpful to do it now before any leaves unfurl to block my
The basics of rejuvenation pruning
Start with a flowering shrub that has grown long and leggy, has a lot of dead branches interspersed, and/or doesn’t produce many flowers anymore.
Each year cut 1/3 of older growth all the way down to the ground.
In 3 years your shrub will be brand new! (It will look much better in the meantime, too!)
** This works with lilacs, forsythias, spirea, mockorange, and probably others. Those are the ones I have done it on myself.
So that’s what I did. Except I probably took more like 1/2 of the bigger
branches all in one go. I also had to lop off several of the smaller, newer
ones as well, because they were growing so close to the oldies that I couldn’t
even get my saw in there without cutting them off at the same time.
So yeah. There’s a
pretty big hole right smack in the middle of the bush now. However, it looks
the worst from this side—driveway view. Front or back views aren’t so bad!
Besides, it feels so darn good to get those big lunkers out of there! Every
single one of them was either diseased or causing problems with the younger,
There are 3 or 4 more
along that right side that I wanted to chop pretty badly, but I’m making myself
wait. They’ll go next spring for sure, though!
My handy-dandy folding pruning saw was a lifesaver for this project!
No loppers big enough for
I will be interested
to see effect this pruning job has my lilac display this year. Even if it
drastically reduces the blossoms, however, I am okay with that, because I know
that next year will be 10x better!
I read something the
other day that said you should prune out any lilac branches bigger around than
your thumb. Well, as you can see, these fellows were more like as big around as
Glad I got this chore done before the snow. Once it all melts off again, I am chomping at the bit to get my flowerbeds all cleaned out, weeded, mulched, and ready for the growing season ahead.