Ficus Trees in California and How to Control Their Invasive Roots

Ficus trees have been widely used in Southern California landscaping and as street trees for the past several decades. Closely related to the common Fig tree, this non-native tree gained popularity because of its multi-season interest as an evergreen tree with versatile uses.

Problems with Ficus trees in California cities see these trees cracking sidewalks and invading neighboring properties. News accounts are widely documented about the expense that these trees are bringing to some cities. Although the bad publicity has removed the Ficus tree from many municipal planting lists, it doesn’t necessarily mean this tree is a bad choice for your property.

Choosing a Ficus Tree for Your Southern California Property

No plant is perfect. Each has a list of positive and negative characteristics, and each has a place where it is ideal. As a company that both designs and installs landscapes in the Los Angeles area, we understand that one essential part of tree selection is educating the property owner about potential challenges.

Don’t completely write them off. Ficus trees could be a good choice for your property. Species of these trees range in both shade trees to a variety that quickly grows into a hedge for screening. However, the plant has become a controversial plant in recent years leaving homeowners to wondering how to control Ficus tree roots.

If you love these trees and want one for your Southern California home, it’s important to know all about Ficus tree root problems and what can be done to prevent them from becoming a problem on your property.

Ficus Tree Root Problems

The Ficus tree’s root system is very invasive. Merely planting this tree without any guidance can later lead to buckling pavement on driveways, streets, curbs, and damaged underground utilities and drains.

If you have an existing Ficus tree on your property there may be little that can be done to stop Ficus tree root problems apart from removing the tree and its roots. However, with the right preventative measures, it’s very possible to control Ficus tree roots when planting a new specimen.

How to Control Ficus Tree Roots

Installing root barriers between a newly installed tree and potential damage areas is an effective way to prevent or reduce destruction. These barrier materials are made from various materials but installed primarily in the same manner.

When a Pacific Outdoor Living customer decides to have a Ficus tree installed on their property, we follow this procedure:

  1. Dig a trench directly next to the pavement where the Ficus tree may reach with its mature roots. The trench should be approximately 1’ deep. The top edge of the barrier material should be just above the surface.
  2. Make sure the trench is a minimum of at least 12’ long, extending 6’ or more past the outer edge of where the mature roots will spread, past the point where the tree branches will reach.
  3. Install the barrier material in the trench, and backfill the area with the removed soil to hold the material in its place.

Installing Ficus tree root barrier materials around a newly installed tree will help direct the root growth of your tree downward versus outward. This can prevent major damage that mature Ficus tree roots can cause to pools, house foundations, and other surfaces later in their lives.

Planting Trees & Installing Root Barrier at Your Southern California Home

Here at Pacific Outdoor Living, we’ve designed tens of thousands of unique landscapes for Southern California homeowners. Some of those beautiful landscape installations include Ficus trees. Whether you want a Ficus Natida hedge to border your property or a Ficus tree to shade parts of your lawn, we would love to talk.

Even if you decide against a Ficus tree, we would be happy to provide you with some other great alternatives. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation.