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I have a Lilac tree in my back yard. It is getting pretty big and starting to get a little out of hand. Would it hurt it to cut it off about 6' off the ground? It is currently about 14 to 16 feet tall.

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Not really.

If you want to take your time doing it, and keep most of the blooms, go in and cut out all the thicker woody branches first.

Then next year or even this year right after the blooms fall off, trim it back to where you want it.

The blooms will already be set now, and if you cut it back all the way around, you won't have many flowers.

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This is a question my clients love to ask me. So forgive the long response.

What your are talking about is called doing a burn down. You cut the shrub back to the ground completely. Don't leave 6" above the ground, cut it as close as possible.

I would recommend doing it in the late summer to fall. Doing it now wont harm it at all, but you wont get the spring flower show this year.

What you will get is a lilac that will come back fast and full. Burning down is a great way to remove dead wood and unpleasant looking shrubs without replacement.

What happens is that all the energy from that shrub is currently stored in the root system. That's a massive root system that has been supporting a large mature shrub, meaning there a great deal of energy available. All that energy will go into new growth.

If you do it now, the shrub will be a few feet tall by mid summer. Next year it will have a beautiful flower show and be very full.

Start the chain saw and good luck.

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