Ficus between retaining wall and pool

buckeyetaraFebruary 21, 2007

I am looking for any resources that support that a ficus has an invasive root system and would not be an appropriate choice for planting in a 5 foot area that is bordered by a swimmming pool and retaining wall. I have a nursery that recommended and planted 4 ficus trees in this area. Having just moved to AZ from the midwest, we took their recommendation and let them plant them. Only by having someone come out to do yard clean up for spring did we have it called to our attention that this could be a huge problem. In addition, the soil is very hard and rocky and required a hard dig for the pool.

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You are correct that Ficus (Ficus nitida) is considered to have an agressive root system. They are notorious for having roots that lift sidewalks, fence footers and even home foundations.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to allow enough space in a planting area to accommodate the tree at maturity. In other words, a tree like Ficus nitida generally has a canopy that grows to about 20 - 30 feet at maturity and you would want to allow this much space in your planting bed. You would never want to plant this tree closer than 10 - 15 feet from a fence or home.

People often forget that a tree's root system will extend 1 1/2 - 4 times the diameter of the canopy in the surrounding soil and don't allow enough room. Plus, this tree is vulnerable to frost damage (you might have seen all the brown trees in the Phoenix valley lately.)

There are lots of other choices available for the space you describe as well as a list of recommended plants around pools. Look for the FREE booklet, Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert which is sometimes available at local nurseries. Check this website for other locations

Here is a link that might be useful: Pool Friendly Plants

    Bookmark   February 22, 2007 at 10:42AM
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I believe the OP was asking for some accredited documentation of the root problems with Ficus (nothing against aztreelvr). In "Landscape Plants for Dry Regions" by Jones and Sacamano: "Aggressive roots may cause heaving and buckling of nearby paved areas".

On the website Desert Tropicals: "Invasive roots"

You might also give the Desert Botanical Garden a call, they have a plant hotline, and you could have one of their experts verify your information. Im assuming you need something to show the nursery in order to get them to take some action for you.... good luck

Here is a link that might be useful: Desert Tropicals

    Bookmark   February 22, 2007 at 3:37PM
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greenlust(z9 Phx,AZ)

I have a steep slopy area in backyard, was thinking of terracing it with 3 small retaining block walls. Does anyone know of any contractor that they can recommend to build one? if yes please email me

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 7:57PM
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We are in the Mold Inspection business and have found multiple times where a ficus hedge up close to a foundation will start to invade the inside of the home. Recently, we did an investigation where the root system had got up into the (Florida Home) concrete block and caused moisture to start seaping into the home. This caused mold to grow behind the baseboard. I always tell my clients to remove any ficus near a foundation because of this problem.

Here is a link that might be useful: Safe Homes

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 5:46PM
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