Trees offer some great advantages to your landscaping; they’re beautiful, provide shade, and can even lower your electric bills in the summer. But if you aren’t careful about placement and choosing the right species of trees, you could end up with a cracked and damaged driveway, sidewalk, or patio. Doing a little research will go a long way toward protecting your existing concrete structures.

When it comes to planting trees, size matters. If you choose small, slow-growing trees, you won’t have to worry as much about their roots damaging concrete. Good ornamental species include the smaller (sometimes dwarf) varieties of Flowering Plum or Magnolia. These trees have more compact root systems, which means they don’t spread out nearly as far as the roots of other trees.

On the other end of the spectrum are trees that cause a great amount of damage to concrete. These trees grow quickly and their roots spread out very aggressively, posing a significant danger to your driveway or patio. These include varieties of Oak, Sycamore, Ash, Maple, and Cottonwoods. You can certainly plant these trees far away from your driveway or sidewalk if you have a large yard, but also be sure to remember roots can damage sewer lines if not positioned correctly. Any time you plant these large, fast-growing trees, you will need to plan very carefully to avoid damage to a variety of structures.

Aside from damage caused by roots, you might also consider the mess some trees tend to make on concrete. In particular, those that drop a significant amount of fruit will leave you with a sticky, gooey mess that you’ll be cleaning up throughout the tree’s fruiting season. Fruit bearing trees are a wonderful addition to any landscape, but be sure to plant them in a position of the yard away from walkways and your driveway.

Once you’ve chosen a tree that will not damage your hardscape, try to plant at least five feet away from any existing concrete. There are trees that can be planted closer than that, but very careful selection of these trees is required.

We carry a large selection of trees, which are perfectly suited to the climate in Southern California. Visit our nursery website www.mccabesnursery.com and come see us! We’ll be happy to help you select a tree and discuss placement options to help you avoid damage to other parts of your home’s landscaping.

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