Lilac wood grows quickly every year, sending up new branches while the older branches get thicker. Woodworkers considered the lilac wood to be a "hardwood," suitable for carving and musical instruments. Whether you are clearing out old bushes or just trimming in your yard, save the wood and use it for heat in a fireplace.
Rejuvinating Lilac Bushes
Lilac bushes need trimming every few years to remove the old wood. You can collect the trimmings and save them for clean-burning firewood. If you are pruning in the summer, after the bush has blossomed, cut the branches into firebox-long sections and store them in a dry place to season until the winter. Older bushes might produce branches as thick as 3 or 4 inches.
Burn lilac wood only after you have allowed it to dry for several months, a time called "seasoning." The moisture content will drop and the wood will burn with a higher heat. Store the wood in a dry place with good air circulation. Split larger chunks in halves or quarters so it dries completely.
Save the thinner branches of the lilac tree to use as kindling. The twisted form keeps the wood from packing together too closely and allows air to flow through the fire. Cut or break them into the right size for the fireplace and allow them to dry until there is no green under the bark.
Lilac wood also carries a slight scent similar to the lilac flowers. When you burn the wood in a fireplace or for smoking meats, it gives off a slight floral smell. Of course, if your fireplace has the firebox enclosed behind a glass door, you will never smell it indoors, but an open fireplace might emit a little of the pleasant smell.
Maryland resident Heide Braley is a professional writer who contributes to a variety of websites. She has focused more than 10 years of research on botanical and garden articles and was awarded a membership to the Society of Professional Journalists. Braley has studied at Pennsylvania State University and Villanova University.