Home Brush Removal to Save an Aging Lilac



I took advantage of one of our unseasonably warm winter days to clear out some of the brush around our aged lilac bush. My husband helped by carrying the debris to the curb for pick up by our village crew. It was delightful to work on this project together!

I love having a diverse set of tools to work with since brush can come in a variety of sizes (see photo above). We used hand pruners, a lopper, our pruning saw, kneeling pad, sitting stool, goggles and our very handy, electric Black & Decker Alligator (a sort of chainsaw pruner).

After having completed a couple of other gardening chores — pruning the grapevine, cleaning up some of the comfrey and adding it to the compost, then digging a little more in preparation for the installation of a backdrop for the garden spa container — we got to work. Our first task was to remove a 4-inch diameter volunteer that had grown through the fence to our neighboring yard (see photo below for the artful torquing of the fence panel that it left behind).

Next, we worked on countless other volunteers surrounding the lilac. Our lilac is on its way out, after a presumed long and lovely life. It’s the least we can do to keep all the nutrient suckers at bay during this sweet-smelling beauty’s waning years. Though there are roses, nightshade and several other annual weeds, the most voracious and prevalent volunteer is a pesky little devil that sends out runners with roots dropping down wherever bud hits ground.


While I’d love to keep these monsters of proliferation more at bay, there are so many other garden chores that seem to take precedence. Unfortunately, I only get to the great clear-out once every five years or so. In fact, last time our youngest son performed this task for us.

I’m sure others might approach this challenge by killing off the intruder with chemicals or by digging out the offending saplings. I prefer our method, even though it’s more temporary. As I said, our lilac is old and I doubt it would make it through either of the more permanent processes.

I don’t like adding these voracious plants to our habitat brush pile so our choices are either take the time to cut it all into nice little 4-foot or shorter pieces and bundle them for the garbage collector or chop them into 8-foot or shorter pieces for pick up by our wonderful village maintenance employees. The garbage is picked up weekly so the refuse disappears more quickly while we wait for the convenience of village removal. Our choice is the latter, because it results in less labor for us in preparing the brush.

We still have more cleanup to do, this was merely two hours on a warmish winter day. However, any time put toward such chores is less to do in the coming months. Before we turn around twice, spring will be here and we’ll be onto continued bed remodeling and the next growing season.


Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings and Being Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

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