7 Trees with Non-invasive Roots

red and orange leaves on beautiful Japanese maple tree

Trees are supposed to have roots, right? What's the big deal, anyway? Why shouldn't trees grow their roots underground? It certainly sounds a little silly to worry about underground roots. After all, what's the big deal? But actually, underground roots can be a very big deal. That’s why it’s so important to stick to trees that have non-invasive root systems.

The Root of the Problem

Trees with invasive roots that spread out a great deal can actually make it harder for other plants to grow in your outdoor spaces. If tree roots are using up lots of available space, it stands to eas on that other plants can end up being choked out. Other plants may not be able to grow roots and get the nutrients they need.

But that's not the only problem. Tree roots that grow quickly and invasively are always seeking out water. The roots are shooting out in every direction and rapidly growing toward this life-giving source. It's a huge problem because these roots will be attracted to any source of water. That includes plumbing pipes.

Even pipes that develop the smallest possible leak will become a beacon for invasive tree roots, which end up growing around and even through pipes once they find that source of water. It goes without saying that this all turns into a nightmare plumbing experience that involves digging a lot of holes and paying a lot of money.

Finding the Best Trees

The last thing you want as a homeowner is plumbing problems. And it's going to reduce the appeal of your outdoor spaces if you can't have the landscape you want. So make it a point to plant only trees that have non-invasive roots on your property and make it less likely that you will have troubles with these trees in the future.

There are many lovely ornamental trees, shade trees, and flowering trees that do not have invasive root systems and that are also easy to grow.

1. Japanese Maple

red Japanese maple tree

Japanese maple trees are gorgeous ornamental trees that grow very well in hardiness zones 5 through 8. This tree is distinct for its bright red foliage in the fall. In summer, the leaves are deep green.

This tree reaches out 8 feet in height with a spread 30 feet wide. The only trouble with Japanese maple trees is that they can be picky about light. Too much and the leaves will be damaged, too little and the foliage will lose some of its vivid color. These trees grow best in well-drained, moist soil.

2. Crepe Myrtle

crepe myrtle tree with purple flowers

Crepe myrtle is a pretty deciduous shrub that's known for thriving in the southern U.S. These trees have gorgeous color in the fall. These trees do need to be pruned regularly.

There are many different varieties to choose from and they all have a pretty controlled, contained root spread, as compared to plants with much more invasive root systems.

3. Kousa Dogwood

dogwood tree with white flowers

Dogwood trees are highly prized for their beautiful flowers, which appear in spring and summer. Dogwoods also have a brilliant autumn color. The Kousa dogwood, which has a non-invasive root spread, grows in hardiness zones 5 through 8.

This is not a huge tree, growing to 25 feet at maximum with a spread no larger than 25 feet wide. Give this tree both direct and partial shade for most of the day.

4. Star Magnolia

beautiful flowering tree

Star magnolia trees produce large, beautiful blossoms that bloom against dark green leaves. These trees grow in hardiness zones 4 through 9 and thrive in slightly acidic soil.

This is not a large tree, growing to a height of no more than 20 feet with a spread of 15 feet at most. This tree wants full sunlight for at least several hours every day.

5. Citrus Trees

oranges on small tree

Many different types of citrus trees have non-invasive root spreads. These trees also have the additional bonus of producing fruit and pretty flowers, which makes them highly ornamental.

Citrus trees typically do not grow to large sizes and they produce pretty leaves along with flowers and fruits.

6. Red Oak

red leaves on oak tree in field

Red oak trees grow all over the U.S., thriving in hardiness zones 3 through 8. These are large trees that can reach heights of 75 feet with a spread as wide as 35 feet. The trees have distinct leaves that are highly recognizable and in the fall, they turn a range of different autumn colors.

This tree tolerates pollution well. Give the red oak full sunlight for most of the day, well-drained soil of just about any type and it will grow well for you with little maintenance.

7. Crabapple

beautiful pink blossoms on a crabapple tree

When it's in full bloom, the crabapple tree is a breathtaking sight. The bright white flowers appear around mid-spring and they really make an appearance, covering the tree and drawing the attention of everyone who sees them. The leaves are deep, glossy green in summer and become a pretty yellow in the fall.

The crabapple is ornamental year-round, inf act, thanks to the orangey-red fruits that appear in fall and winter. The crab apple attracts many birds, so avian enthusiasts are going to love this tree.

Crabapple trees gr win multiple hardiness zones, notable 4 through 8. The tree has a height and a spread of about 20 feet and needs full sunlight throughout most of the day.