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Leyland Cypress Root System: Are Leyland Cypress Invasive?

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Leyland cypress trees are common ornamental plants for landscaping. They grow super fast and start to provide privacy to your backyard. But will their roots cause issues for you and your neighbors? Are Leyland cypress invasive? This article will answer all the questions about the invasive nature of the Leyland cypress.

Leyland cypress root system explained

The roots of Leyland cypress are not invasive to buildings or structures but can grow almost as long as the tree. The tree will grow huge, blocking sunlight, and the roots can spread wide and compete with other plants. Plant leyland cypress only if you have at least 15-20 feet of open space.

Leyland cypress trees are one of the fastest grower landscaping trees. So,  if you want a giant tree within some years, you can plant cypress trees. Cypress trees are also used as Christmas trees in the south of the United States for their fast-growing ability.

But can they be invasive?  The general answer is no. They can not be invasive as they have weak and shallow roots. But if we dive deep into the topic, we will discover some invasive natures of the cypress trees.

First, let’s talk about the bright side. The cypress roots are not so deep but can become as wide as the tree’s height. Moreover, the roots are not strong enough to cause any harm to structures and buildings.

Cypress has shallow roots. They do not have any tap roots. The tap root is the central root that goes deep and stores food for difficult times. The shallow roots of the leyland cypress are harmless and do not penetrate any buildings. They also don’t become woody and thick enough to lift concrete slabs.

But you should always keep 20 feet distance from the buildings if you want to plant a Leyland cypress. Although the tree will not harm the buildings, enough space is needed so the tree can grow and thrive.

However, the leyland cypress has some disadvantages too. They grow about 70-80 feet, and their roots also grow above 50 feet. They grow about 4 feets a year. That’s pretty fast compared to other trees.

So, the long roots cover a lot of places in your area. They also need massive nutrients and resources to grow that fast. The widespread roots of cypress trees do the job.

The issue with this is that the cypress tree will absorb many nutrients and compete with other trees. And in the competition, Leyland cypress will win because of its high nutrient absorption power.

So, other plants in your garden will get less water and nutrients if you have a sizeable Leyland cypress tree in your backyard.

You need to consider other things before planting a leyland cypress tree. They become large so fast that they can block the sunlight in your backyard. So other trees and plants do not get the proper sunlight for themselves.

Also, a large leyland cypress tree can cause problems for your neighborhood. The tree can block sunlight in their yard too. So before planting a cypress tree, it’s better to talk about the issues with your neighbors. You are good to go if they have no problems with a large cypress tree.

As we mentioned earlier, leyland cypress trees do not have deep roots. So their anchor with the ground is a bit weak compared to other plants. So if a storm happens, there are chances that the tree can fall and cause damage to your property. Considering this, you should plant your leyland cypress in a safe place from your house.

However, if you don’t have that ample space in your backyard? You can simply choose not to plant cypress trees.

But wait, there are other alternative ways to plant a cypress tree. You can prune your cypress tree and stop it from growing taller. Note that doing so will make your cypress tree wider, and you will need to prune your tree every year.

Does Leyland cypress have deep roots?

Leyland cypress trees do not have deep roots; they have a shallow root system about 2 feet deep. The roots of the leyland cypress are pretty broad but not so deep.

The width of the Leyland cypress tree depends on the height of the tree. In most cases, the roots spread more than half the tree’s height. But sometimes, the roots can reach as wide as the tree’s height.

That means if you have a 70-meter Leyland cypress tree, the roots can reach up to 35 feet to 70 feet. The width of leyland cypress roots can depend on many factors.

The first factor is the soil. If the soil is rich enough to support the fast growth of the tree, the tree will not grow too wide roots. But if the soil is not rich enough and does not have enough nutrients and water.

Most of the trees have one similar strategy to grow. They want to get tall as fast as possible, so they get sufficient sunlight to produce their food and get taller and wider. But cypress trees took this too seriously. They prioritize growing tall as fast as they can.

But other trees have slightly different strategies. They also make their roots Strong and compact and focus on growing tall.

How Deep Are Leyland cypress Roots?

Leyland cypress tree roots are pretty shallow compared to other trees. Their roots usually do not reach deeper than two feet under the ground. In some cases, the root depth can also be as shallow as 1 foot.

The depth of their roots depends on the soil type. They don’t need to grow very deep in clay soil, and about one foot is enough for them. So, why does a large tree grow so swallow roots like that? Here is the simplified answer.

The upper portion of the soil is the most nutrient-rich part of the soil. There are abundant oxygen, minerals, and other components that help a tree to grow faster.

As the upper portion of the soil has the most oxygen, microbial communities are very active in those parts. In soil fertility, soil microns play an essential role.

So, if a tree spreads its roots only in the upper part of the soil, that will allow the tree to get the necessary resources to grow very fast.

Can Leyland cypress roots damage foundation or pipes?

Leyland cypress roots do not damage the foundation or pipes. Cypress roots are fibrous, and they are thick to do any harm to those structures. The roots are not also woody enough, so they can not penetrate any concrete surface or pipe.

If any foundation comes in front of their root growing path, they will change the direction of their growth. But you should always ensure enough space for them, so they don’t need to change the direction of their root growth and thrive freely.

Although they do not damage any structures or foundations, other trees and plants near the Leyland cypress can have nutrient deficiencies as the Leyland cypress absorbs the nutrients faster than other plants.

But You can solve this issue by applying fertilizers to individual plants and water. But in a nutshell, it can be problematic for small to midsize lawns.

Do Leyland cypress spread or multiply?

Leyland cypress does not spread or multiply easily. It’s also quite hard to grow them with seeds. Leyland cypress does not also grow another plant from its root, like banana trees. So you don’t need to worry about spreading issues if you have Leyland cypress trees.

Rooting the vegetative cuts is the easiest way to grow a new plant from an existing cypress tree. And you also can collect leyland cypress from your local nurseries. But before planting a Leyland cypress, you have several works to do.

First, calculate how much space you can provide for a 70 feet cypress tree, find a safe from your house, talk with the neighbors if they have any issues with a tall tree, etc. After you ensure there will not be an issue with a 70-80 feet tall tree, you can plant your Leyland cypress.

Final Thoughts

Leyland cypress roots spread over half of the tree’s total height but do not reach more than two feet deep. The roots are harmless and do not deal any damage to the foundation and pipes. Provide at least 15-20 feet of space for your Leyland cypress so it can grow and thrive easily.

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