Ligustrum tree - Knowledgebase Question

Clermont, Fl
Question by mkmalys
January 24, 2011
Is there a problem with Ligustrum tree roots invading the septic tank? Our builder 's landscape co. planted it 10 yrs. ago and I believe they knew what they were doing as far as location. The tree has gotten quite big. Do the roots basically go straight down? Also, we'd appreciate some hints on trimming it. Thanks, M


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Answer from NGA
January 24, 2011

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Ligustrum, or Japanese Privet, is commonly grown as a large shrub or a small tree. They are tolerant of most growing conditions and soil types which makes them easy to grow in most any landscape. You can expect the roots to be concentrated in the top 18-24 inches of soil and to spread out as far as the tips of the branches. In general, they shouldn't invade septic tanks - unless there is a break in the tank and excess water is pooling around the tank. Excessive moisture in the soil can be a magnet for tree roots. As for pruning your Japanese Privet, winter is the best time to prune. You can either trim the entire canopy as you would a hedge - removing several inches all over which will result in a thick and rounded canopy, or you can selectively prune out misplaced limbs and branches to thin out the canopy. Ligustrum will take almost any amount of pruning but I am careful to remove less than one third of the live growth during any annual pruning session. This helps the tree maintain its health and vigor. Best wishes with your landscape.

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