How To Care For Neglected Lilac Tree

Question From: j. marchetti - Hibbing, Minnesota, United States
Q: my hubby and I have sort of adopted the lilac tree between our house and the neighbor gals house because she does not care if it lives or dies. It is not a priority of hers, and she prefers a yard of low maintenance. After cleaning around the base of the tree and getting rid of the built up trash, dead grass, vines, cutting back old branches and cutting out old dead trunk, I noticed a scale on the trunk and bigger branches. it is a light bluish to aqua color, and some of the bark seems to be peeling. it is still blooming, and i am very surprised it is. the tree has got to be more than 50 yrs old. last yr. we killed most of the ants last yr. the tree has huge rocks around its base. i think they are from the iron mine (Taconite rock). I am thinking we should remove them, but the tree grows on a slope so they have helped preserve the soil from eroding around the tree. can you help? i just hate seeing that poor tree so neglected.
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A: Those blue green growths on the tree are lichens and are harmless to the tree, so leave them in place.Lilacs can live for 100 years or more so this gal is just getting started. I would prune away the suckers on the trunks and those emerging from the root area. Since the tree is thriving I would leave the rocks in place. Fertilize in very early spring with Espoma Plant Tone. Sprinkle it over the rocks and water it in. Best And Happy Yardening, Nancy