Monday, November 7, 2011

Zoomin' Bloomin': Lilacs

As a naïve first-time homeowner, I was thrilled that our backyard was framed by thirty foot high lilac bushes.  I know, can you be that naïve?  Yes, yes indeed.  Soon after we moved in, I realized the lilac bushes were so old and weathered, they didn't even bloom well.  Around that time, I recalled my dad mentioning chopping down and uprooting all the lilac bushes on his new property.  I was still a bit confused.  Now in the third year of our homeownership, I look at my lilacs and think one thing: Battleground.
When I was pregnant with Isaac, Ben came home one evening to me saying, "I did something..."  He was scared.  I pointed out the window... our once thirty foot tall lilac bushes on the East side of our property were now three foot stumps.  He was shocked.  My chopping actually didn't make a huge difference in the long-run; the next spring they sprouted little twigs and branches and grew about four feet over the summer.
I battled our lilac bushes again this fall.  My weapons were mainly a reciprocating saw and long-handled pruning shears. 
A couple lilac-ing tips to offer up:
  • Have no mercy - Sure, the websites may say to wait until early spring or late fall to attack your lilacs, but I say, if they're big and old, stay on top of them, chop them non-stop, cut them right down.  So maybe they won't bloom for a couple years.  Beats having thirty foot tall lilac bushes.
  • If you want to be completely rid of them, you must go for the roots.  If you just cut them down to the stumps, they will sprout new branches and return in full force.
  • Bind the branches and bag the twigs and leaves as you go along.  This is something I didn't do either time, but it's pretty overwhelming once you're finished and you have a massive pile to sort through (scroll down).  The birds also flutter around the pile of branches, making you feel a bit guilty for ruining their thick shelter and home. 
Here are some before and after photos:
West side - BEFORE

West side - AFTER - craziness! 
Since we only have a chain-link fence on this side, the goal is to turn our lilacs in to a hedge,
not to make them completely disappear.

East side - BEFORE

East side - AFTER - with our fence, I'd like to eventually completely remove (roots and all)
these ones that I've cut down to the ground.  
I still have a couple little problems: stumps to remove and a huge pile of debris to deal with:

Mary Mary

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