Deck around Fig Tree

Anthony(7a)February 25, 2013

Hi all,
We have a lovely fig tree about 10 feet from our house. It needs a little light maintenance to keep it from brushing the house, but for the most part it keeps to itself and there's no sign of root intrusion into the basement. It's a great shade tree and super prolific in late summer.

The problem is that it intrudes on our deck and makes it half unusable. The deck needs replacement so we are considering options.

One option is to drop the deck down around the fig tree so we're well under the canopy. It would allow the deck to flow into the landscape and no longer be an irregular thumb sticking off the house.

I have seen people build around trees in the past, but never a fig tree, so I don't know what that would require and if it's worth it.

Any advice appreciated.

Thanks,
Anthony

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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

Don't see any problem with building deck around the fig tree. You could just as easily grow the fig tree around the deck as well, as they are quite malleable and can be made into living sculptures.

While I hear you say there's no sign of root invasion, I have this uneasy feeling...

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 9:25PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

Replacing a deck is expensive! We need to replace two big ones, and even if you do it yourself, the materials cost a lot! We were in shock when we got the price from our contractor.

I'd love to see pictures when you get the deck built around the tree. Probably the hole with supports and facia board should be several inches from the trunk to allow it to grow, but the deck would probably need to be replaced again before that fig grows that wide!!

We are considering putting a fig tree next to our deck and about as far from the house as yours, and I was worried about root invasion. Then another forum on figs showed so many photos of figs in other countries growing right out of walls and smacked up right next to buildings with assurance that Ficus Carica roots would go deep. Someone in the California forum gave me a better option for a non-messy, non-invasive shade tree: Acer freemanii AUTUMN FANTASY MAPLE, so that will be what we use.

I love figs and the fig will go in another place. I think your idea of surrounding the fig with a deck sounds very creative and amazing!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 10:14AM
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Anthony(7a)

Thanks for the followups.

We were thinking a massive hardscape, but that would be more detrimental to the tree, and occasionally we get a small flood when our neighbors yard drains through ours (only very bad storms do that), but the hardscape would have problems, the deck, not as much.

The existing footings are above ground.

I'm trying for a two level approach with the lower ground level being around the fig tree. The only wildcard is then how bad the suckers and small replants will be on the new deck. I'm hoping enough leaf litter and water make it down to keep her healthy, but I'm hoping the lack of light will keep suckers and replants from forcing through the new deck.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 11:18AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

arc, if you can post photos of the tree and the area, that might be helpful? Hardscape is so not friendly. No ability for the water to percolate down and benefit your yard. Better to do softscape, like decks, pavers, DG pathways, etc. I'm not a fan at all of wall to wall concrete. Besides the fact that it doesn't look good, it's just not environmentally sound. Post up photos, and we can see the area. Depending on the fig variety, they can be very well behaved and compact, or be very vigorous and need constant pruning to keep in check. Do you know what fig variety you have by chance?

Patty S.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 2:01PM
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Anthony(7a)

Hi all,
Just an update. We're really liking a design that gets low to the ground and encircles the fig tree. That pic is a little old, the stairs work better straight off the upper platform.

Cooking and herbs on the upper level, garden between the stairs and eating/entertaining under the fig tree and to the right.

I have enough clearance to use 4x12's on the lower level, so I should only have four footings about 5 feet from the tree. Other footings should be well away.

Now to just figure out if it is practical. Our lasting concerns:

Suckers through the deck -- happened on our upper deck, but the shoots had time to get big before trying to go through the boards (could get light through the lattice, edge of existing deck). Also, it only happens in one place at the corner, not a huge problem
Fig droppings staining the deck -- thinking of using a cedar/brown Trex or equivalent.
Health of the tree. -- we're trying to not disturb the roots much, use decking that will drain, etc.

Any other thoughts or advice appreciated!

Thanks,
Anthony

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 8:29AM
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girlbug2(z9/10, Sunset zone 24)

I like your design and I agree that the stairs might work better coming straight from the door. This also puts more room for wider stairs and area around the fig for chairs to take advantage of the shade.

As far as disturbing the roots, figs are really tough. An established fig could deal with a little root pruning.

How far off the fround is the lower level? If it's up more than 2 feet I would think you could occasionally crawl under the deck to remove suckers.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 2:07PM
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Anthony(7a)

To keep all my tiers below 30" (no railings needed), the lower level will be about 12" off the ground at the house and 16" at the edge on the fig tree side. The ground slopes another foot to the left on the picture, so that lower staircase is 28" from ground to decking.

The more we looked at it, the suckers were only a problem for the higher deck with a lot of light coming through the sides. The deck closer to the fig tree (where it's dark all the time) has no suckers underneath, so nothing to worry about through the boards.

Still a minor worry, but at this point, I don't think it's a deal-breaker. I have some updated designs, but they're on my work computer; will post later this week.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 2:38PM
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