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How far do tree roots spread?

 
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JB



Joined: 08 Jun 2005
Posts: 7610
Location: 91° N
PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 08 8:16 am    Post subject: How far do tree roots spread? Reply with quote    

Our neighbour has a fir tree just on her side of the boundary between us. This beastie is about 30 foot tall and only about 10 foot from the edge of our house. There's no evidence of it causing a problem at the moment other than a path cracked three or four feet from the tree but it does seem too close to my inexperienced eye.

How far are the roots on a fir tree likely to spread? If it's taken down will the ground settle and possibly cause just as much damage as if it was left to grow? Could if be controlled without taking down the whole tree?

Last edited by JB on Tue Sep 23, 08 8:24 am; edited 1 time in total

vegplot



Joined: 19 Apr 2007
Posts: 20165
Location: Ynys Môn
PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 08 8:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Fir trees don't have an extensive root system as witnessed by trees uprooted in high winds.

Edit: You may need to express your concerns with your neighbour as they would be liable for any damage caused to your property.

It's almost imossible to control fir trees in any meaningful way i.e. you can't coppice or pollard them, some can be trimmed depending on species.

Last edited by vegplot on Tue Sep 23, 08 8:33 am; edited 1 time in total

Silas



Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 6848
Location: Staffordshire
PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 08 8:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Decidious trees have extensive root systems, usually as big as the branch system on the tree. However, trees on a grafted rootstock can vary quite a lot.

Northern_Lad



Joined: 13 Dec 2004
Posts: 14210
Location: Somewhere
PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 08 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Indeed; they used to say that a tree's roots went as deep as the tree is tall, but it's more accurate that the roots generally go as wide as the branches.

Willows, however, are somewhat different.

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 24793
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 08 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

There should be plenty of info online about it. I've found root spread is quite variable, trees in our garden have roots that spread way beyond the canopy. Fir trees do usually have a smaller root spread so I might be more worried about it falling over in a storm...

Is this table any help?

http://www.abi.org.uk/Display/default.asp?Menu_ID=946&Menu_All=1,946,0&Child_ID=125#Anchor5

OP



Joined: 28 Jul 2006
Posts: 4661
Location: Yorkshire
PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 08 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Not sure about fir trees, although I have noticed leylandii have shallow small root systems. Regarding deciduous trees, the volume of the root system on a dwarf apple tree will be only a fraction of the aerial part of the tree. However the spread of the roots is often similar to the spread of the lowest branches. In contrast the root system of a mature standard cherry tree can spread to a factor of 2-3 beyond the width of the branches.

Silas



Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 6848
Location: Staffordshire
PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 08 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

orangepippin wrote:
Not sure about fir trees, although I have noticed leylandii have shallow small root systems. Regarding deciduous trees, the volume of the root system on a dwarf apple tree will be only a fraction of the aerial part of the tree. However the spread of the roots is often similar to the spread of the lowest branches. In contrast the root system of a mature standard cherry tree can spread to a factor of 2-3 beyond the width of the branches.


Yes, I did say about grafted rootstock

shaunb



Joined: 12 Sep 2008
Posts: 169
Location: Ruthin, Wales
PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 08 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Trees close to buildings can cause a problem during periods of drought, especially on clay soils when the tree will suck the ground dry, causing ground cracking and possible subsidence of buildings.

oldish chris



Joined: 14 Jun 2006
Posts: 3765
Location: Comfortably Wet Southport
PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 08 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I once reduced the impact of a leylandii hedge by digging a three ft deep trench along my boundary and lining one side with thick plastic sheeting. (It was on very sandy soil!). The shrubbery on my side of the fence did OK.

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