Some trees are known to have root systems that grow extensively and cause problems for homes and landscapes. Not only can these trees’ invasive roots take over your yard, suppress the growth of grass, and upend sidewalk surfaces, they can crowd and damage your home’s foundation and underground pipes.

If you plan to landscape your property with new trees, or if you purchase a property and inherit existing ones, beware of these trees and their problematic roots.

Hybrid Poplar

The hybrid poplar tree has a wildly aggressive root system that can invade your sewage pipes, foundation, and lawn. The roots send up “suckers” that can create new poplar trees in all directions.

Hybrid poplars are hardy in Michigan, since they grow in hardiness zones 3 through 8. This tree can be ideal if you’re looking to establish a shade tree or a living privacy screen quickly, since it grows about 5 to 8 feet in height per year, and can reach between 40 and 50 feet tall—spreading as wide as 30 feet. The hybrid poplar, however, takes over its surroundings since it grows and reproduces so rapidly.

Japanese Knotweed

If allowed to grow unchecked, Japanese knotweed can become so invasive that its roots can actually penetrate concrete, and they have been known to grow through masonry foundations. Japanese knotweed is actually a shrubby weed with bamboo-like stems that can reach as tall as 9 feet. This semi-woody perennial grows at a rapid pace, and if uprooted can regrow from even the smallest piece of its root system left behind.


Oak trees are from the beech tree family, and there are about 500 different species of oaks in existence. The red, white, and bur oak are native to Michigan.


Conifers are cone-bearing evergreen trees and shrubs that have needle-shaped leaves, or scale-like leaves, and include pine, spruce, fir, juniper, cedar, yew, redwood, sequoia, and cypress trees.

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