The Q&A Archives: Lilac Shrub

Question: My family and I just moved into a house that has what appears to be a very old Lilac shrub - more like a tree as it is probably 15' - 20' tall. A number of the branches appear to be rotting at the the ground level even though the foliage is healthy looking. What could we do to improve it's health?

Answer: It's possible that the lilac has suffered from "weed whacker blight" and the bark is scarred but still intact. Since the stems and branches are producing foliage, they are healthy - on the inside, at least. What you can do for your lilac is protect it from additional weed whacker damage so the damaged bark can callous over. I'd form a basin from the main stems out to about 8-10 inches and maintain it as bare earth or mulch over it with bark chips. This will keep excess moisture from invading the damaged bark, and will protect the bark from being damaged by string trimmers.

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