Getting Rid Of Lilac Bushes: How To Get Rid Of Lilac Bushes In The Garden

Huge Lilac Bush
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(Image credit: Jennifer Martell via GKH Scavenger Hunt)

Lilac bushes (Syringa vulgaris) offer fragrant, lacy blossoms in the springtime. However, they can be very invasive plants. And once you have a lilac in your yard, you will not get rid of it easily. How to get rid of lilac bushes? Read on for information about removing old lilac bushes once and for all.

How Do I Get Rid of Lilac Bushes?

Lilac shrubs reproduce by seeds, but they also grow new plants from suckers. Shoots grow from the roots parallel with the surface of the soil. As they go along, they send up sucker shoots. Each of these can grow into a new bush. A single lilac plant easily forms a grove of these shrubs over time. It may be the emergence of the grove that causes you to ask: “How do I get rid of lilac roots?” But plants can also be diseased, infected, or just plain overwhelming. The big problem with getting rid of lilac bushes is that the plant regrows from any piece of root section left in the ground. Because of this, cutting down the bush at ground level is a very temporary solution. Quite quickly, you will have many lilac shoots coming up from the stump area.

Getting Rid of Lilac Bushes by Pulling Them Out

How to get rid of lilac bushes? One solution to the problem of removing old lilac bushes is pulling them out. Watering the ground around the plant thoroughly helps loosen the soil. You can try pulling out the roots by hand if the plant is young. Use a shovel and hoe to dig down on all sides, exposing the roots. Use the shovel to remove the entire rootball. However, for older, established plants, you’ll do better using a tractor or truck to pull out the plant’s root system. Tie a strap around the base of the lilac, put tension on it with the vehicle, then cut the roots on the other side. Keep adding more tension and eventually the root ball will emerge from the soil. That said, removing old lilac bushes completely requires that all of the root sections be removed. Any piece remaining in the ground can resprout.

Getting Rid of Lilac Bushes with Chemicals

Another way to start getting rid of lilac bushes is to use chemicals. Your first step in removing old lilac bushes this way is to cut the bushes to ground level with a chainsaw. Burn or dispose of all of the foliage. The second step in getting rid of lilac bushes with chemicals is to apply herbicide containing Glyphosate. When you put this chemical on open cuts on the lilac stumps, it will kill the roots. Apply it quickly after cutting down the shrubs. Note: Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are safer and much more environmentally friendly.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.