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How Destructive Are Common Fig Tree Roots?

By Teo Spengler
Fig trees can get enormous and require extensive root systems.
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Nothing about the common fig tree is small except its fruit. The tree grows to 50 feet in height, and tough, twisting branches extend even wider. Leaves are bigger than adult footprints and roots are extensive, though not aggressively destructive.


Figs themselves are small, seed-packed fruit.
fresh fig image by .shock from Fotolia.com

A fig tree's root system serves two purposes: to anchor the trunk to the ground and to bring it nutrients. Fig roots extend far beyond the tree canopy, but stay relatively close to the surface of the soil.


Plant fig trees in a location with full sun, good drainage and sufficient water. Do not plant anything -- not even grass -- near a young fig, so that its roots have no competition for moisture. The less moisture, the farther the roots will extend in search of it.

Potential Damage

A fig's roots are not aggressive enough to injure masonry, building foundations or pipes. The roots may damage sewer pipe, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension, and should be kept away from sewers and septic systems.


About the Author


Teo Spengler is a docent with the San Francisco Botanical Garden and a staff writer with Gardening Know How. She has written hundreds of gardening and plant articles for sites like eHow Gardening, Gardening Know How and Hunker. She holds a JD in law from U.C. Berkeley, an MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing.