The Q&A Archives: Merrill magnolia tree

Question: How aggressive are the roots on merrill magnolia's? I want to plant one close to an approximate 3 foot high retaining wall. The retaining wall is made out of large blocks and is quite sturdy. Will the roots damage the wall?

Answer: Merrill magnolia is more of a shrub than a tree but it will still get 12' high and 15' wide at maturity. The roots of magnolias can be shallow and can grow outwards one and one-half times the diameter of the canopy. Because of this, I'm afraid planting it only a few feet from a retaining wall can cause some problems in the future. Why not plant a shrub with a smaller, deeper root system instead? Camellias and hollies have well behaved root systems and shouldn't compromise the integrity of your retaining wall.

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