Ficus Benjamina, my neighbor is demanding that I cut it down

rsieminski(9b)January 5, 2009

I planted 3 Ficus Benjamina plants that have now become very large and beautiful trees, 30-40' high. The roots have gone under his fence, and he says that they are headed for his pool, believe it or not. For some reason the roots are exposed on his side, but not on mine. I offered to help him cut the roots, but he says "the trees must go. In fact that rubber tree needs to go too!" How forward can you get!

What can I do? What should I do? What would you do?

Thanks,

--Rick

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I would consult an attorney to find out if he has standing. Tough call - especially if he's a good neighbor. The roots of Ficus b. are tough enough to break up roads & building foundations, so I would venture that a concrete swimming pool wall would be little different.

Al

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 12:13PM
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gardenerme(z9/21 inland socal)

These trees are renowned for growing very vigorous surface roots and most arborists would recommend you never plant them in your yard. I have also heard the root growth will migrate toward water sources . . . like a pool.

I am very surprised you have no surface root growth. The yards that have them around here have no soil left on the ground. It is a solid mass of surface roots.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 10:28PM
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rsieminski(9b)

So do you recommend that I take it out?

Unless the pool had a leak, how would the tree know that the pool was there?

Can I stop it by cutting the roots?

Thanks,
--Rick

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 5:44PM
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svanessa(9/SoCal)

Rick,

Have an Arborist come over and ask their opinion regarding the ficus. Cut the roots? Cut the trees? Trim? Have your neighbor there too so he can hear first hand what is said. That way you let your neighbor know you understand his concerns and are willing to resolve the problem. It will help keep the animosity down. It's up to you if you want to take their suggestion or not.

If this doesn't resolve the issue then I'd go see an attorney to find out the legalities of the situation.

Sue

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 6:26PM
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rsieminski(9b)

The best idea yet!

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 10:02PM
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orchidguyftl(z11 FTL FL)

I agree with Sue.
Though, maybe do both. As far as the pool, Our ficus, in the front yard, has roots growing through small cracks in our pools wall. It also has seeked out my ponds on the oposite side of the house and has the roots growing up the sides and dipping into the surface of the water.....

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 6:52PM
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italiangirl74(6)

Ciao, this sure seems like a terribly invasive tree to have especially in a populated area. It seems to just take over. If I was your neighbor, I would probably want it down too. Maybe you should keep these type of trees for when you are in a less populated area where it wouldn't effect others homes. Did you research its habits before you planted it? Also, it may start to reach havick on your own home. People do keep Benjamina as houseplants in pots, or in pots on their porches ect. I don't know Benjamina's native habitat, but obviously it likes to search deep for water. I hope you come to a peaceful resolution. Good Luck. Ciao

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 8:45AM
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rsieminski(9b)

See the thing is that they sell them as hedge plants, and they do end up outside. The nurseries advertise them as quick growing landscape plants. I saw a mature one down the street and that's why I thought they would be nice in my yard. It's a beautiful tree, and I hate to kill it, but it looks like it may have to go. Did I mention he is a cop.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 9:09AM
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dieseler

Rick if you were the neighbor you might worry as well, they seek water roots are under his fence its only a matter of time before the ultimate also the roots on top of the soil will soon make it hard to cut the grass as i have seen some tree's do that. Save your money as i think an aborist will tell you the same thing cut it down. In the end you both have piece of mind cause if you dont and 1 day it does invade his pool then what, if it were me i would whack it this spring and grow some ornamental tree as a replacement and stay away from bradford pear tree's they dont get pears and are very pretty in spring but split in storms as i have found out weeping willows are similar as well.
Martin

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 10:54AM
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eloise_ca

Rick, if you can, just cut the trees down. In the end, you will save yourself a lot of heartache -- they do destroy pools and yards. My neighbor to the back had one that broke through our mutual fence. I didn't ask, but he on his own cut it down. To this day on that side of my yard, it's hard to plant because the ground still has lots of very strong roots that makes it hard to dig. To my left, another beautiful huge ficus that neighbor cut down because it was breaking up their driveway and mine.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 11:01AM
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luvgardening2(8/9)

Hi, I saw this post earlier and I can so relate. When I purchased my first home, I wanted to make it look nice. I went to the nursery and bought two trees. A Chinese Elm and a Ficus. They were both little twigs. Years later, both grew into BEAUTIFUL trees. Stunning really. I started to have plumbing problems. I was having the sewer snaked every other month. At one point, it was every month. I still refused to chop it down. The plumber himself told me it is the Ficus and to chop it down or he might as well move in. HA! I was so stubborn in my younger years. :o) I even had him change the pipes. When they dug the trench, I could actually see the root going into the pipe in SEVERAL places. My ficus tree roots never surfaced. They were happy going into the sewer pipe and clogging it. After that got fixed, it started to crack the concrete walkways and planter. The planter is just 5 ft. from the house. I then realized it was that damn tree or the house foundation. I hated to do it but I had it removed. This was THOUSANDS of $'s later.

I have a neighbor that put in several in their front yard. When they did it, I was shaking my head. 2 days ago, they had all of them removed. Probably going for the pipes and the house.

Do everyone a favor and save your money with the arborist. Have them removed. There is no way to contain them. Really.

Nancy

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 11:50AM
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