We have a mini lilac bush that I got from my parents many, many years ago. It did so well at their place and I thought it would do well at mine. I planted it in the corner of my yard, hoping that the bush would fill out and poke through the chain link fence, making the fence less ugly. Ahh, no such luck. The bush has done worse every year, even failing to bloom in the last year or two. At first I blamed this on the plethora of dayhome kids tossing toys into it, falling on it or kicking balls at it. But it's been getting worse even though I closed the dayhome three years ago.
So, my boyfriend S and I stuck a spade into it's root ball and ripped it out of the ground. In the process we chopped as many branches as we could off of it with the dull hatchet I had (I say 'had' because it has mysteriously left the yard, stolen probably). S then dragged the remainder of the bush and left it out near the garbage area. I knew that the garbage people would not take the bush like that, but I told S to leave it while it died, then I would chop and bundle the branches so it could be picked up with the rest of the garbage. So every day for a week I would walk over to the bush after work and see how dead it was. And every day I would marvel at how it seemed to be doing well even though it wasn't in the ground and the roots weren't protected.
We agreed that it was doing better and thought we should give it another chance to live. So S dug a hole near our shed in the back yard. It is the only place that has shade (except near the house, but the landlord won't allow shrubbery near the house as the foundation is soft). It occured to me that the lilacs did so well at my parents' house because it faced west, getting lots of shade. In my yard it was in the blistering sun all the time. Oh, and I rarely watered it. Heh heh. Anyway, after digging a good-sized hole, S went to the lilac bush, grabbed it by it's 'throat' and dragged it to its new home. He unceremoniously dropped it in the hole and we stamped dirt on the roots. Since putting the bush in it's new location it has actually blossomed. Real flowers. Unbelievable. Now I know the secret to making it bloom: beat the crap out of it and treat it like it a lump of garbage. Or chop the dead branches off and remember to water it. Whichever.