Seeded Maples infesting lilac bushes

Asked May 20, 2019, 7:28 AM EDT

My neighbor has a very large seeded maple tree that has dropped many seeds over the years, which have taken root in and around my lilac bush. I am concerned that the maples are overtaking the lilacs. The maples are also on the verge of hitting power lines. For these reasons I would like to remove the maples. However, I won’t be able to do so without cutting some or all of the lilacs. If I cut the lilacs close to the bottom will they come back, or will I need to replant?

Dakota County Minnesota

1 Response

You don't provide the size of the maples, but it sounds like we could possibly treat this as a pruning of your lilac, even though it is for the purpose of removing the invading maples. There are a couple of ways to prune a lilac. The first would be to remove about a third of the oldest wood, down to ground. The second way is rejuvenation pruning which would be intended for older, more overgrown lilacs. In this method, you would trim it all the way to the ground. This would be best done in late winter. The rejuvenation pruning make take some time for the plant to grow and would obviously affect flowering, probably for a couple of years. Depending on how much pruning your lilac needs or how much needs to be removed in order to remove the maples, one of the above techniques may work. In some situations, the rejuvenation pruning described above may damage or kill your lilacs. If they are growing poorly due to competition from the maples or other factors, or if they are very old or otherwise unhealthy, this severe type of pruning would not be advised. The links below provide some additional information.