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Stags Horn Sumach vs House Foundations

Morning all,

We're trying to get a definitive answer here on whether or not, if planted close enough to a house, could a stags horn sumach tree damage house foundations via it's roots. I know that if you cut them they multiply like no ones business but we've got a couple of rhus trees here at home and were told to keep them in their pots (albeit large ones) instead of putting them in the ground. We're looking to buy a house now which has 2 of them within about 2m of the side wall so, we'd like to try and get a better understanding if these lovely looking trees will be the bane of our life in years to come,


Thanks in advance for your help!


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,025

    I like Stagshorn Sumachs - they grow in such elegant shapes and have such fantastic autumn colour - I think the big problem is that if pruned they start to throw up suckers and don't know when to stop.  Leave the tops alone and the roots will behave themselves. image

    I'm pretty sure they're shallow rooted and as such shouldn't be a problem to a well-constructed house.  I know an old thatched cottage with a row of them in the front garden only a couple of metres of the front wall, and 50 years on the cottage is still there and so are the sumachs, looking very venerable, like something from a Japanese painting.  Love them. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,295

    You may have been advised to keep them in pots so they couldn't sucker which can be a pain in the orifice rather than a danger to foundations.

    My opinion is that the sumach isn't bit enough at the top, to have big enough roots to damage foiundations.

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391

    I agree with nut.  As a very general 'rule of thumb', the roots of a tree are of a similar size, spread and girth to its branches.  Rhus isn't one I'd be worrying about insofar as damaging foundations.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Jim12345Jim12345 Posts: 2

    Excellent. Thanks for this, much appreciated. We're big fans of them here as well so it's re-assuring for us.


    Thanks everyone!

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