Lilac shrubs are a beautiful addition to any landscape, growing into a large bush in only a few years. Lilacs are a shrub that produces blooms that are more abundant when a gardener prunes less often. If pruning is necessary, be sure to prune immediately after the lilac is finished blooming to ensure you do not remove future blossoms.
Spread the tarp under the lilac bush to catch the foliage you remove.
Set up the stepladder to enable you to reach the entire bush if the lilac bush is large.
Trim away all of the faded blossoms by clipping them off immediately under the blossoms. This will help the lilac plant to focus on growing new buds for the next growing season.
Examine the overall shape of the lilac shrub after removing the faded blossoms. The lilac bush should look full, but it should not be so full that the interior of the bush does not receive adequate air or sunlight.
Use the pruning shears to trim away several large stems and branches from the middle of the lilac bush if air circulation and sunlight is limited.
Remove any dead or diseased branches that you may find.
Remove all but two or three new shoots that grow up from the soil near the base of the lilac shrub. Allowing only two or three new shoots to grow each year will enable the lilac bush to grow larger, yet not become overgrown.
Look at the lilac shrub after performing the pruning thus far. If there are any stems that protrude out from the sides of the shrub that make the lilac shrub appear overgrown, consider trimming them off to shape the lilac shrub.
Pull up the tarp and dispose of the removed foliage.