Okay, so today I went out and started maniacally pruning a huge hedge of over grown lilacs. Today being Sept. 17, 2011. I know, not the right timing. But this is a summer house, I’m not always here at the optimum pruning time, and I’m willing to sacrifice next year’s bloom for a fuller healthier hedge that doesn’t block our view. I was planning to do it earlier but I have new neighbors and didn’t want to freak them out by hacking down the privacy that the hedge provides. But now they’re gone for the summer, so the crazed pruner strikes. Out of season, argh.
This is Michigan, zone 4.
I know lilacs are hardy, but have I pushed them too far? We won’t get a hard frost for another month or two due to the “warmth” of Lake Huron.
Also, I tried to leave the leafy sides of the hedge intact, but the inner parts of the hedge are just 10-12 foot long trunks, about 2″ in diameter, with leaves at the top. I cut them down to about 5 feet, and they’re pretty well hidden by the side shrubs, but do I need to take them down even shorter? I’m afraid if I do it will look really strange, like a trench with spindly lilacs on the side. But if I don’t, next year’s growth (assuming they’ll grow) won’t be very healthy.
Can I leave them as they are, hope for the best, and then when they’re sending up all their new growth next summer, cut some of the older ones down to the right height? Which is 2-3 feet?
Feel like an idiot for doing this. I knew it was bad timing, but it was a gorgeous fall day and on impulse I just started lopping and sawing.
Any advice, sympathy or condolences much appreciated.
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Welcome! I’m Margaret Roach, a leading garden writer for 25 years—at ‘Martha Stewart Living,’ ‘Newsday,’ and in three books. I host a public-radio podcast; I also lecture, plus hold tours at my 2.3-acre Hudson Valley (NY) Zone 5B garden, and always say no to chemicals and yes to great plants.