How Destructive Are Common Fig Tree Roots?

Updated July 13, 2018

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.


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.

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About the Author

From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. World traveler, professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.