Hi. I am in Canada and still have a foot of snow in some parts of my yard. I found on this site I will have to re-register for outdoor plants, but maybe some one can help me. I moved into this place last fall and did see the roses and lilac bush in the prior spring as my boyfriend ownes this yard. I live here now and want to help these poor things. The rose bushes had pretty thick pink flowers not like a bouquet you but in the store just bud like but full open flowers. I know they could produce more and be fuller..whayt do I do to get these. It is pretty early as we have NO green anything yet, still goes below 0 at night, but I am jumping the gumn and want to know if I should cut them right down, or trim them? Also a HUGE lilac bush with TONS of suckers. I do work in the forest industry with Trees and know suckers take away from the main tree, does this also go for lilacs? I have pictures but can not post them all. Please mail me if you think you can help and I will send the sad sorry pictures to you. Oh I have not raked or touched then yet so don't be too disgusted. I want them to be BEAUTIFUL!! HELP!! Oh yah the dog pee'd on them all winter I am sure...!!! ??? well there was 5 feet of snow around them so I do not know if they got damaged. email@example.com with roses in the subject..Thanks!
If I was you I would go to pallensmith.com he is a gardening guru that has a lot of shows on PBS. On his sight you may be able to find so good suggestions for you situation with the lilacs and roses.
My mother has a Syringa vulgaris (plain old lilac). Two years ago I dug up all the suckers. It wasn't too horrible to do. In the 40 years she had it the suckers never produced flowers. The few main trunks were left, they always flowered. I put down weed block and mulched as the suckers do come back. Looks a lot better now. I don't think the newer varieties sucker like the old one so you can replace it and not have this problem. But don't worry about killing it by removing the suckers.
As far as the roses, you should look on the web or in a book on pruning them. I cut out the spindley canes, dead canes, and any canes that cross each other and would rub. On the remaining canes I look to where the new branch buds could form and cut down to above the ones that would grow away from the center of the plant. I've been very brutal cutting my roses and haven't had a problem. The only time I've lost a rose is if I dug one up and planted a new one in it's place. I remember Christopher Lloyd wrote as to why this happens, but I can't remember. I'm sure there's great websites that can illustrate rose pruning for you.