Deep roots or shallow roots? Or even both?
It is not possible to say exactly whether the common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) belongs to the deep or shallow roots. In fact, the shrub spreads underground both in a fan shape and close to the surface as well as in depth - depending on how the soil is composed at its location and at what depth the nutrients and water are. The deep roots provide the lilac with everything it needs - and the meter-wide, ring-shaped ones provide plenty of runners through which numerous varieties reproduce. By the way: plants generally only have as deep roots as they absolutely have to. If there is a nutrient-rich and water-rich layer on the surface, the roots of a classic deep-rooting plant do not extend meters deep.
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Important: Always adhere to the planting stands
Since lilac roots spread so widely, you should absolutely keep the recommended planting distances not only to neighboring plants, but also to walls, etc. It is usually recommended to choose a distance between one and one and a half meters for vigorous varieties. Lilac hedges can of course be planted more densely.
Dig up lilacs completely - otherwise a lilac invasion threatens
Many types of lilac - not all - develop so-called root runners, which can also appear several meters away from the main trunk. You should bear this in mind if you want to remove a lilac - the mere sawing off of the trunk usually only leads to hundreds of root saplings suddenly breaking out. For this reason, you should always dig up the roots as completely as possible. For the same reason, it makes sense to attach a root barrier when planting to control the growth of the lilac and its spread.
A simple pond liner or similar is not sufficient as a root barrier, as the strong roots simply pierce them. Instead, consider using a more stable rhizome barrier.