We've moved into a house that has a Magnolia tree, about 10 feet tall, that I don't think has ever been tended. There is lots of sticks around the base of the tree and some of the branches are touching the ground. I think it would grow & look better if it was cleaned up a bit. It's got lots of buds on it and I know I must wait until it has finished blooming before I prune, but is this tree one that bleeds? How long after blooming should I wait? Any Magnolia experts out there? Same goes for a Lilac tree. Lots of brush at the base of that! Again, same questions!
Samantha, I'm not sure about the Magnolia pruning, but with the lilac, you might be able to dig up some rooted suckers for trading, especially if it's an unusual variety (bi-colored, yellow, etc. Even if it's not, there's bound to be some folks who would be interested in some rooted cuttings.)
If your talking Saucer Magnolia, then lots of them are multitrunked large shrubs rather than "trees". Some folks prefer them that way. If however, a central leader has already been established but it just hasn't received any "cleanup", then don't worry about trimming off up to 1/3 of it after it blooms. I'd wait a couple of weeks after your last frost date, and just shape it up. They really don't need much pruning, just a general shaping if they become untidy looking.
Thank you Sunflower and Go_Vols,
I shall follow your advice! It's wonderful how we're able to enlist help on Dave's Garden. Thank you to Dave too!