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The root system of maple trees

Updated July 13, 2018

Homeowners choose maple trees for their quick growth and fall foliage, but it pays to consider the tree's root system. Many maple varieties have shallow, spreading roots that mandate careful site selection.

Silver Maple

The forgiving ways of the silver maple (Acer saccharinum) make it popular in backyards as well as rehabilitated areas. Silver maples establish easily, grow fast, and adapt to a wide variety of terrain. However, the silver maple's shallow but vigorous root system can damage sidewalks, clog drain pipes, and penetrate septic systems.

Red Maple

The red maple (Acer rubrum) delights with its vivid fall colours. It is a "supergeneralist," growing in a vast range of conditions -- including deep shade -- and variety of sites. This maple's surface roots are not as aggressive as those of the silver maple.

Sugar Maple

Perhaps the most celebrated of the large Acer family, the sugar maple (Acer saccharum) is the national tree of Canada. An excellent shade tree with wide, spreading branches, the sugar maple is renowned for its sugary sap. The sugar maple's shallow root system prevents grass from growing under its canopy.

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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.