Will cutting Ficus Tree surface roots kill tree ?

will_3April 23, 2007

We have 3 relative large (40 feet high) Ficus Tree's along the back of our property... planted by previous property owner.

We want to cut off the surface roots in order to dig and plant other types of tree's... (or whatever)... then in a year or two maybe take the Ficus trees out (after our new trees/whatever are established)

My Questions:

1 - Do Ficus Tree's have both surface and deep roots?

2 - Will the Tree's blow over in a wind with out the surface roots?

3 - Will they die before our new stuff is established in about two years?

Thanks for any help.

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Ficus benjamina have very problematic surface roots. They are nice trees but really not a good choice for a south florida home lawn due to problems with slab, plumbing and pool damage. As if that wasn't enough they are prone to pest/disease.
If I were you, I'd taken them out and replace them with an awesome native tree like Sugarberry.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 1:23PM
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Most likely we will take them out in about two years.

Right now they give us afternoon shade and some privacy.

We are planting other trees/etc between them. When the new stuff gros we will probably remove the Ficus trees.

I still need to know if cutting the surface roots will make the tree fall over in a wind... or kill it before I'm ready to take it down.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 1:29PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

The short answer is "probably not", to either making them fall over or die off. Hurricanes coming directly overhead negate any guarantees, however :-).

Their root system is so massive, as I recall, that cutting it will probably have little effect. However, cutting roots is just like cutting branches - it encourages growth from the cut ends. I would make any planting holes a LOT bigger/wider that you might otherwise, to try to limit root competition from the ficus. Unfortunately, watering the new trees as they will require will also encourage the ficus roots to grow into the holes from the outside. You might want to push a shovel into the soil around the outside edges of the planting holes every few months to prune off the ficus roots and keep them out of the planting holes. The roots of the new trees shouldn't grow out to fill the hole so quickly that you would be also cutting them.

And, of course, I assume you will mulch the new trees, no mulch in the 2-4" next to the trunk, out as fas as possible, at least to the drip line, and no deeper than 4".

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 2:20PM
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That is a good answer from Dibbit and it sounds like you got a good plan going. And hopefully planting something other than palms.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 3:37PM
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