Olive tree roots are generally not invasive. They grow slowly and only spread to around three feet in width and roughly five feet in depth. Mature trees themselves can grow up to 30-40 feet high and have canopies that are 15 feet wide.
When you consider that the roots often spread as wide as the crown of the tree, it’s easy to understand that even though the roots don’t grow very deep into the ground, they can certainly grow very wide in many cases.
Types of Olive Trees and Their Roots
There are roughly 1,000 varieties of olive trees that are grown on nearly every continent of the world. Some of them get very large, while others remain relatively small.
If you grow the trees in containers, you won’t have to worry about invasive roots.
Some of the most popular types of olive trees include the Picholine olive tree, which grows to 20-30 feet in height; and the Mission olive tree, which can get up to 40-50 feet in height.
Because their sizes can vary so much, it’s smart to do your due diligence and choose olive trees that can accommodate the size of your yard.
Not to worry, though, because you have thousands of them from which to choose!
2 Ways to Stop Olive Tree Roots From Becoming Invasive
In most instances, you won’t find the roots of olive trees to be invasive, there are still a few things you can do to keep them contained.
1. Make Sure the Space Fits the Size of the Tree
If you give the trees enough room to grow, the chances that the roots will be aggressive or invasive are greatly reduced. If you decide you wish to plant some olive trees in your yard, think carefully before you decide which ones to choose.
If you have a smaller garden, you might want to consider olive trees that won’t grow too large. These include the Arbequina, which gets no bigger than 15-20 feet tall; dwarf olive trees, which get 8-10 feet tall; and Nocellara Del Belice olive trees, which get to 15-20 feet.
Plant your olive trees far enough away from sewage lines, homes, fences, etc., so that those structures are safe.
Plant olive trees in a space that will give their roots plenty of room to spread out and reach their mature size. This should be more than enough for you to keep the roots of the trees under control.
2. Use Root Barriers
Root barriers are physical barriers that redirect the root growth of olive trees downward instead of horizontally.
This way, if you want to plant your trees near hardscapes or structures, they won’t damage those structures because the roots won’t become invasive.
Root barriers are made out of many different materials, and some are even coated with substances such as herbicides, which in turn will cause the roots to turn away.
Root barriers are made out of high-density polyethylene, or HDPE, but they can also be made out of fiberglass or metal.
Impermeable root barriers (plastic, metal, or fiberglass) that have been sprayed with a root growth inhibitor generally work best.
Permeable barriers are usually made out of mesh and are generally not as effective as impermeable ones.
Do Olive Trees Have Damaging Roots?
Olive tree do not have damaging roots. Roots from olive trees are not invasive and are not aggressive.
They also have certain benefits, such as they absorb water and nutrients, grow slowly and carefully, and do no damage to the soil or water resources surrounding them.
Large olive trees can grow wide roots so make sure there is enough room before you plant them.
How Close to a House Can I Plant an Olive Tree?
It is generally recommended that you plant olive trees roughly 20 feet from your home.
Even though most small olive tree roots grow only 5 feet deep and 3 feet wide, the spread of the tree itself can grow out to around 20 feet.
It is best if you allow that much room between the tree itself and the house. This is not imperative because olive tree roots rarely cause any serious damage to anything around them, but it’s still a good idea to give their roots the space they need.
Do Olive Trees Grow Big Roots?
While olive tree roots can grow about 3 feet wide underneath the soil, the roots themselves are generally only about 2.5 inches in diameter. Olive tree roots can get up to 5 inches in diameter in some cases, depending on the type of olive tree you plant.
Remember that olive tree roots can also reach 5 feet underneath the ground.
What Type of Root System Does an Olive Tree Have?
Olive tree roots are considered a deep root system since they can grow 5 feet under the ground.
The root system is designed so that the maximum amount of nutrients is extracted in order for the trees to grow and thrive.
Olive trees also have the capability to grow very fast. Because of this, they need plenty of water and nutrients so they don’t become aggressive and start to cause damage to the property around them.
Olive trees are not difficult to grow and in fact, you can even grow them in containers if you wish. That being said, they do have what is considered deep roots, although they are not invasive or aggressive (and therefore not damaging) in most instances.
To keep the olive tree roots contained the best option is to plan ahead so the roots do not become invasive in the first place.
If you still have questions or concerns about your olive trees and their roots, you can research them online or speak with an expert at your local gardening center.
In general, growing olive trees should be something you look forward to because it is simple, fun, and very rewarding.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.