Will fig trees destroy my house foundation?

Discussion in 'Fruit and Nut Trees' started by Brandon Burke, Sep 2, 2019.

  1. Brandon Burke

    Brandon Burke New Member

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    So Ive planted 7 fig trees around my house and im wondering if anyone has heard of the trees roots eventually ruining the foundation of their homes. My house is on a concrete slab and I have no basement. Ive tried looking online for information about this but I havent found anything. The only stuff I can find is about warmer climates where fig trees ruin sidewalks and buildings but those trees grow massive compared to the fig trees where I live. I live on vancouver island and ive planted desert king, ronde de bordeaux, violette de bordeaux, panache, lsu purple, and italian honey. Im not sure if any of those will eventually cause issues. If anyone has any experience with this I would love to hear.
     
  2. SecheltSara

    SecheltSara New Member

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    Highly anecdotal, but my neighbour's house was built in 1965 on concrete foundation and has a fig tree RIGHT against it (like I can barely get my arm between the trunk and the house), and the tree now provides a bit of shade on the second story patio. It doesn't appear to have harmed the foundation any, but the tree produces a small amount of fruit which never ripens. I suspect it can't get enough water. The original owner of the home said that it has never properly fruited while the "twin" tree in the front which was produced with cuttings from the same source provides a healthy yield.
     
  3. Joan L NW

    Joan L NW Member

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    One of my neighbors also has a huge fig tree less than 3 m from his house, which was built in 1990. There is no visible damage, to his driveway or the sidewalk, and I'm sure he would have said something during one of our socially-distanced chats last summer if he was having trouble with the fig roots. This tree does produce a lot of figs, but they are much smaller than mine and ripen about a month earlier. I have no idea what variety it is, nor do I know what mine is.

    My fig tree is about 10m south of my house, about 3 m away from my apple-pear tree and 2 m away from my back fence. I had to replace the landscaping ties last summer in the 1.2m square "box" surrounding each tree and dividing it from the lawn, and I noticed that the fig tree's roots were much smaller and more flexible than those of the apple pear tree, although the trees were about the same age and size.

    I had to remove a 16 year old cherry tree a few years ago, as it was planted less than 2 m away from the house, and it had already heaved the sidewalk and was fixing to do the same thing to the house foundation. If you think about it, cherry and plum are hardwoods, so it makes sense that their roots will be hard as well. The wood of the fig tree is nowhere near as dense (much easier to prune), so it is less likely to interfere with the concrete. I would never plant a fruit tree of any kind less than 5 m away from the house, and preferably further away than that.
     
  4. Sulev

    Sulev Contributor

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    In northern areas it is wise to keep your figs in shape by cutting them so, that they won't grow high, and replace the tree, if it gets older (figs grow crop only on young shoots, therefore pruning is important step for maintaining high yield). Such young trees won't cause serious trouble for buildings, unless there are already cracks in the foundation. Figs benefit of proximity with buildings though, especially in colder climate. So planting near southern walls is recommended. I think that by replacing the tree every 10 year or so would be enough to avoid serious troubles with foundation cracking by roots. And that's good for better figs yield also. I'd not plant figs closer to the building than 0.5 metres, but not because of risk for damaging the foundation, but worsening growing conditions for fig (limited root growth, more shadow from the wall, worse access for pruning etc).
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2021
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    As mentioned foundation problems are generally caused by tree roots when the foundation is already damaged. Or maybe a kind like a redwood is planted right up against a foundation, with the sheer size of the entire base of the tree eventually having an effect decades later. Otherwise here is another involved aspect of planting figs in your general vicinity that may present itself on your site at some point:

    On December 19 and 20, 2008 temperatures dipped to 9 [degrees] F at WSU Mount Vernon NWREC and as a result we saw a variation in top damage on the fig varieties (Table 2). Desert King and Lattarula both produced a small crop of breba figs. Most varieties did not produce breba figs and some varieties were completely killed to the ground and resprouted from root suckers.

    Project No (wsu.edu)

    And here's another one that discusses various aspects, claims fig trees are apt to root into drains and pipes (again there ordinarily has to be something going on beforehand that both attracts tree roots in the first place and enables them to gain access). Anyway note the remarks about effects of aspect, drainage and climate on hardiness of fig plantings - the WSU Mt Vernon station is located where in addition to the cool summer climate typical of our region the trials are all being conducted on some version of river bottom mud.

    Planet Fig - The fig tree resistance to cold (Ficus carica L.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2021

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