Lilac bush root system

Lilac Root System: Can Foundations Suffer Damage From Lilac Roots

There is nothing like the fragrance of lilac blossoms wafting through an open window to set the mood in your home, but is it safe to plant lilacs close to your foundation? Will the root system on lilac bushes infiltrate water and sewer lines? Read on to find out more about potential risks from lilac bush roots close to your home.

Root System on Lilac

Lilac roots aren’t considered invasive and as long as you leave enough space between the tree, or shrub, and the structure, there is little risk from planting lilacs near foundations. Lilac roots generally spread one and one-half times the width of the shrub. A distance of 12 feet from the foundation is generally enough to prevent foundation damage.

Potential Damage from Lilac Roots

It’s very unlikely that lilac bush roots will break through the side of a foundation. Damage usually occurs when lilac roots approach the base of the foundation under the soil. Since lilac root systems are shallow, they can only reach the base of shallow foundations. If you have a deep foundation, there is little risk of damage.

Another condition for foundation damage from lilacs is a heavy soil, such as clay, that swells when wet and shrinks dramatically when dry. During periods of drought, the feeder roots pull a lot of moisture from the soil at the tips, causing it to shrink dramatically, and cracks in the foundation may occur. The soil swells again after a drenching rain, but the cracks in the foundation remain. In situations where the foundation is deep and the soil is light, there is little chance of damage to foundations, regardless of the distance between the foundation and the shrub.

There is a small risk of damage from lilac roots to water and sewer lines. Lilac roots follow sources of nutrients and water along the path of least resistance. They are likely to penetrate water and sewer lines that leak, but unlikely to break sound pipes. If you’ve planted your lilac shrub 8 to 10 feet from water and sewer lines, however, there is little risk of damage, even if the pipes have cracks.

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Wednesday – August 06, 2008

From: Ottawa, ON
Region: Canada
Topic: Non-Natives, Planting, Shrubs
Title: Lilac bush roots dangerous to house foundations
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Are lilac bushes dangerous to the foundation of a house? There is a lovely white-blooming lilac that grows against the house outside my bedroom window. My ex-husband said that the roots would destroy the foundation and tried to kill the bush. It has come back, and I love the scent of the flowers coming through my window at night in the spring. Is it dangerous? I know willow tree roots are very invasive, and if the lilac is like that, I’ll get rid of it. But I’m hoping it isn’t.


The common lilac, Syringa vulgaris, is a native of Europe and Asia; therefore, we have no information on it in our Native Plant Database. We can understand your wishing to keep your lilac, even though at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we encourage the use of plants native to North America and to the area in which the plant is being grown.

We looked and looked and looked without finding anything about damage to a foundation from lilac roots. Since they won’t grow in hot country like Texas, we have no personal experience with them. We did find information that growing them over a septic field was not a good idea. Finally, in an article by Ron Smith, Horticulturist for North Dakota State University Extension Service, Questions on Lilacs, we found this question and answer:

Q: I have lilac bushes that apparently are planted too close to the foundation of my house. I’ve been told to move the bushes so they don’t cause a problem when they get bigger (with the drain tile and the foundation). How do I remove the bushes? Can I replant them in another location? When is the right time to do that?

A: I doubt the lilacs will be a problem to your drain tiles or foundation. If you still want to move them, now is not a good time. Early next spring or late this fall, after the foliage drops, would be better.

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This post is sponsored by Bailey Nurseries.

If you have a home that is over 15 years old I bet you are dealing with aging foundation plants. Our home StoneGable, is 22 years old and the once beautiful landscaping around our home has become tired looking, overgrown and showing its age. Recently, we have gone through the process of replacing landscaping around our home and I’m thrilled we did. Our home looks much fresher and younger and the new plants will grow and accent our homes beautifully. Today I’m sharing a common sense approach to a very common problem… replacing landscaping around our homes!

On our recent episode of Decorating Tips And Tricks we are talking about decorating with Industrial Style in mind. You will be amazed at the ideas we have for you and how a little bit of this trendy style can update your look!

Listen HERE.

Now about that landscaping…

We replaced almost all of the bedding plants in the front beds closest to our house. The hardest part of this process was letting go and replaced our dying 22 year old boxwoods. They had been so beautiful. But because of a disease that plagues our area, there was no way to keep them alive.

However, this story has a happy ending because I found a gorgeous replacement for them… First Editions® Wildfire™ Winterberry. Winterberry is a deciduous holly that has bright, fire red berries that remain on the stem during the winter. What a pretty contrast they will be to the white and gray of our home!

Here are a few things to consider when thinking about replacing landscaping.


If you are like me, then you probably don’t give bedding plants around your home a good once-over on a regular basis. And we should! Add walking around your home and checking out the health and wellbeing of all landscaping plants to your to-do list every month.

Here are some things to look for

  • healthy leaves and/or dropping leaves at an inappropriate time of the season
  • dead spots
  • signs of insect or vermin destruction
  • broken branches or stems
  • signs of under or overwatering
  • roots disturbing walkways, house foundation, or driveways, roots growing up out of the lawn, etc.
  • bushes hiding windows, doors, etc
  • plants blocking air conditioning units and any vents
  • the overall health of the plants

Here’s how the plants around my home looked…

The boxwood looks healthy but there was a whole lot of mess and trouble going on the inside of the plants. And the Annabelle hydrangeas I love so much had gotten so big at the height of their blooming season they grew and drooped over the walkway.

We kept the boxwood trimmed and neat but they were now hiding over half of our porch railing. And the Annabelles were higher than our railing in full season! Foundational plants should show off your home not cover it up!

Four of our 8 boxwood plants had a deadly blithe and this is how they looked when they were cut out.

When the bedding plants were cut down we could see just how dead and unruly the plantings were!


Like most updating and makeovers in my home, replacing our old landscaping will be done in stages. And that might be the same for you too!

So be mindful of the total cost and labor of landscaping.

We made a list of how we think we will replace most of the front landscaping at StoneGable. We are thinking it will be done in three phases.

Phase One:

  • remove the dead Ash tree stump that keeps growing back and reseed with grass
  • remove the overgrown holly tree and reseed with grass (this was a tough one because we love our holly tree, but deemed it was not safe because it was too hard to see around it coming out of our driveway.
  • replace all bedding plants in the front of our home closest to the house

Here are all 8 new First Editions® Wildfire™ Winterberry in a row! We will keep them trimmed to about 1/3 the height of the porch when they are fully grown.

Lots of new growth already on my Winterberries!

This is how the Winterberries will look dressed up with their berries…

The Annabelle hydrangeas were replaced with Endless Summer ®Hydrangeas. Unlike the Annabelles, they will stay round and compact and bloom all summer long.

Now that phase one is done we will probably do phase two this coming spring.

Phase Two: This phase came about after we replanted the front. I originally wanted to keep the spirea (bridal veil) but after seeing how fresh the front looked the spirea looked very overgrown and sloppy. The same for the front landscaping around the lamp post.

You can see from the image below that the Queen Ann Lilac tree is very leggy and top heavy.

  • replace existing spirea with another early summer blooming plant
  • remove and replant the small front bed around the lamp post
  • replace the lamp post


  • widen the driveway and have it repaved.
  • landscape around the back walk

This might take at least another year to address.


One of the biggest decisions, after deciding to go ahead with the project, was to pick out plants. And most importantly to pick the right plants! It’s very much a process of elimination. We knew we wanted to incorporate First Editions Wildfire Winterberry and Endless Summer hydrangeas.

I had seen the Winterberry plants in landscaping in our area and I love how they berries stay on the plant in the winter. Perfect for our home!!!! And I have had a long love affair Endless Summer hydrangeas! So Winterberry and Hydrangeas were a must!

We consulted our landscaper for other plants that would work well with them and our home.

Here are some things to consider when choosing new bedding plants

  • height and width
  • function of plant
  • shapes and textures
  • color
  • evergreen or deciduous
  • climate and zones plants will thrive in
  • soil
  • drainage
  • sun
  • wind
  • surrounding plants
  • plant diseases in your area


We decided early on that this was not a DIY project for us. We know our limitations! So we contacted a landscaper that we have been working with for years and he helped us with choosing some of the plants, purchasing the plants and the landscape remodel process.

As you can see getting our boxwood’s out was a big undertaking. But sooo worth it!

Here is what was planted in the area that was being dug up.


Taking care of plants after they are planted will help them thrive and grow. We want to keep our investment happy and healthy!

Here are some things to think about after landscape is planted…

  • mulching
  • watering
  • fertilizing
  • trimming
  • pruning
  • keeping an eye on the plant (see TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT THE LANDSCAPE AROUND YOUR HOME)

And most of all…


Make sure to take time to enjoy the beauty your new landscaping brings to your home!

Today on DECORATING TIPS AND TRICKS we are talking about OUR STAIRWAYS. We have lots of ideas and ways to decorate them so they enhance your home!

A big thank you to Bailey Nurseries for providing product and compensation for this post. The opinions are 100% my own.

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UPDATED: Jan 09, 2020.

The best evergreen shrubs for front of house can provide visual enjoyment 365 days a year. Depending on the species, these shrubs feature broadleaf-like leaves or needle-like leaves.

They also come in varying heights that you can mix to create a landscape that is more attractive. To make it even better, you should consider planting a couple of shrubs that bloom during the spring and produce fruits during the summer.

But getting the best evergreen shrubs can be a daunting task when you consider the many types found on the market today. That’s why we have reviewed the top 10 evergreen shrubs on the market today.

By: George Miller

At a Glance: Our 10 Choices for Best Evergreen Shrubs for Front of House to Feature in This Article:

  • APE Sansevieria Trifasciata Snake Laurentii Live Plant (Top Pick)
  • Proven Winners Blue Chiffon Rose of Sharon Live Shrub (Top Rated)
  • Fudingzhu Fragrant Tea Olive (Editor Choice)
  • New Life Nursery and Garden Fragrant Tea Olive Live Plant
  • AMRICAN PLANT EXCHANGE Foxtail Fern Live Plant
  • Bloomerang Dark Purple Reblooming Lilac Live Shrub
  • Green Promise Farms Knock Out Roses
  • New life Nursery and Garden Eastern Snowball Bush
  • New Life Nursery and Garden Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea

Reviews of Top 10 Evergreen Shrubs for Front of House

Here are the top 10 evergreen shrubs that will make the front of your house beautiful and more attractive.

1. AMERICAN PLANT EXCHANGE Sansevieria Trifasciata Snake Laurentii XL Live Plant

The sansevieria, often called the snake plant, is a known to be a truly amazing and attractive plant for the front house. It is one of those hard-to-destruct house plants that seem not to need water or fertilizer or even die.

In addition to being an air purifier as stated by NASA, the plant is known to remove over 107 known air pollutants such as nitrogen monoxide, carbon monoxide, benzene, chloroform, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene.

Hence, it is a plant that will bring beauty to your house and even purify the air around to leave your home free of contaminants. Moreover, the plant has a higher efficiency of taking in carbon dioxide.

To make it even more interesting, it is one of the few plants that release oxygen during the night. This means that it is even safe for use inside your house.

2. AMRICAN PLANT EXCHANGE Foxtail Fern Live Plant

This is yet another live plant from AMERICAN PLANT EXCHANGE that will beautify your front area. It has upright, emerald plumes that seem delicate, feathery and its crimson berries and white flowers are visually attractive.

Foxtail Ferns are hardy and rough specimens that do well even in harsh conditions. This means that they require little care when compared to other shrubs out there. Actually, these plants will resist drought once they have developed sufficient roots.

Besides, they are great accent plants for container groupings, as a single specimen plant, or staging among tropical. No matter how you choose to place them, they will provide the beauty you have always desired.

Another thing that you might like about these plants is their cost. They are one of the most affordable shrubs on the market today and they don’t have a strong aroma that can irritate some people.

3. Proven Winners 1 Gallon Bloomerang Dark Purple Reblooming Lilac (Syringa) Live Shrub

Looking for a shrub that has been proven to be a winner? Look no further than the Proven Winner 1 gallon Bloomerang Dark Purple Live Shrub. The shrub hits a high height of 6 feet tall when fully grown as well as a width of about 6 feet.

To do well, the shrub needs at least 6 hours of sunlight and is hardy in zones 3-7. So, ensure that you check your USDA zone before you buy this shrub to ensure that it will continue to provide the required beauty.

The plants are often shipped when they are about one year old, meaning that you will get a shrub that has already matured and is ready to add the attraction. Get this plant to transform the front of your house and make it an attractive area.

4. Green Promise Farms Knock Out Roses

The Green promise Farms Knock Out Roses comes fully rooted in the soil. Hence, you can plant it immediately you receive it if the weather allows that. What’s more, planting and caring instructions are provided when buying it.

For the utmost results, plants the shrub in USDA zones 4-8 and reaches a height of 3 feet when fully mature. Also, it can spread about 3-4 feet to cover a wide area that will make your front house look more beautiful.

As the original member of the Knock Out collection, this shrub bloom to produce red/hot pink cherries. And there is no time for blooming since it is an all season plant. It is also a very popular shrub that does well when under the sun.

Just like most shrubs, the plants might be dormant when they arrive but they will soon pick up.

5. New life Nursery and Garden Eastern Snowball Bush (Viburnum)

The viburnum is a hardy deciduous plant that grows to about 8-12 feet high and spread up to 10-15 feet wide. It provides endless clusters of huge pure white, snowball flowers that color your front area.

Another feature of the shrub is the bring green-foliage that has reddish overtones during fall and it looks more like an oak leaf (making it unique from most viburnums). Actually, you get a showy bloomer from this shrub.

Besides, you can use the shrub as a shrub border, screens, hedges, or foundation plant. If you want to prune the bush, prune it soon after flowering. What’s more, its flowers attract beautiful butterflies that will color your home area.

6. New Life Nursery and Garden President Grevy blue French Lilac (Syringa) Live Plant

President Grevy comes with showy panicles of aromatic powder blue flowers that rise above the foliage during the mid-spring. The flowers are ideal for cutting and it offers foliage throughout the season.

The shrub can be planted as a small specimen, grouped, or even massed and still provide the attraction you want at your door front. The plant is perfect as foundation plantings, shrub borders, rock gardens, or peripheries of borders.

Its mature height is about 8-12 feet while the mature width is only 4-8 feet wide. It also requires sunlight to continue to provide partial shade at your front house. The plant might come when dormant but this doesn’t mean that it won’t pick up within a short time to provide the beauty you want.

7. New Life Nursery and Garden Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea Live Plant

Vanilla strawberry is a piece of shrub that appears differently every time you look at it, all summer. Its flowers start when they are green, swiftly turns into a creamy shade of white. Later they turn into blushing pink and finally settle into a rich shade of rose.

It is a large, well-balanced, and vibrant shrub that reaches up to 7 feet high and 5 feet wide within a few years. Its flowering period continues into later fall and will keep the area looking more beautiful.

Moreover, they require little maintenance, proving you with more time to do other things.

8. Proven Winners 1 Gallon Blue Chiffon Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus) Live Shrub

This shrub comes at a reasonable height of around 8-12 feet and is 4-6 feet wide when it gets mature. The plant requires at least 6 hours of sunlight per day to remain in top condition and continue beautifying your front house.

It is hardy in zones of 5 – 9 and you should always check your USDA zone to guarantee its success. Every gallon is 6-18 inches tall and they usually come when they are one year old. This means that you get mature plants that cannot die easily.

However, shrubs that are bought from November to March might be dormant. The shrub is very affordable and will keep your front house looking more beautiful than ever.

9. New Life Nursery and Garden/ Fudingzhu Fragrant Tea Olive (Osmanthus)

The name fudingzhu translates to “pearls on buddha’s head”. This has been one of the best woody shrubs for the deep South for over 2 decades. Profuse white flowers completely cover the shrub from early fall all the way to winter and even early spring.

The plant flowers quite heavily such that its booms encircle its branches to form a beautiful sight. Its flowers can be spotted from a 1oo feet away and you can easily smell its sweet aroma within the same feet.

It provides lustrous dark green oblong leaves above and lighter leaves just below them. When mature, the shrub rises up t0 10 feet and its width can vary from 6-8 feet. It is a good shrub that will cost you less money and still provide you with the beauty of more expensive plants.

10. New Life Nursery and Garden Fragrant Tea Olive (Osmanthus) Live Plant

Blossoms of this shrub are almost inconsequential, but their effect cannot be ignored. Its strong aroma can be smelled from a hundred feet away, making it one of the most aromatic plants around.

The shrubs provide small white flowers that bloom in clusters and even along the stems. This makes it look more beautiful when compared to other shrubs on the market today. Its leaves are dark, glossy green and are arranged oppositely on its stem.

One thing that makes it a great shrub is that you can easily fine tooth or smooth the shrub. With this plant, your front of the house will have a sweet olive bloom that will make you want to hang around for a while.

You should expect the shrub to bloom in late fall as well as early spring. Its mature height is 10-15 feet while its width is 8-10 feet.

Choosing the Right Evergreen Shrubs for Front of House

Know the following things when buying your evergreen shrubs for the front of your house:

  • The location – Some will require exposure to the sun while others will require partial exposure.
  • Height – Consider the height and width of the shrub and know what you want to achieve.
  • Attributes – Do you want your shrub to have fruits, flower or lush foliage?
  • Growth habits – Every plant has its unique growth habit.

Evergreen Shrubs fro Front of House FAQs

Q: How far should I plant my shrub from my house?

A: This will depend on how far the plant will spread once it grows. For instance, if it reaches 10 feet, plants it at least 5 feet from a tall window.

Q: Which is the most appropriate color to plant?

A: The color solely depends on your taste and preferences. However, prior research is important to determine which colors match perfectly.

Q: How much time do they take to mature?

A: The shrubs are of different types. Some take as little as one month to mature, while others can take several years before sprouting their first flower.

Q: How big are the shrubs during purchase?

A: Like many other tree species, the shrubs are bought in a gallon container and are about 1 foot tall. However, some may be slightly longer or shorter depending on the supplier.

Q: Are the shrubs affected by too much sunlight?

A: Evergreen shrubs are hardy plants that can survive even in arid areas. However, too much sunlight or heat may deter the growth rate on some species. Some of the best sun-variety species include phlomis and bat-faced cuphea.

In Conclusion

The best evergreen shrubs for front house will add the beauty your need to your front house. Choose a shrub that will be friendly to your environment and be effective.

Lilacs: Tips on planting and growing

The other large group are the late lilacs, mainly the Preston hybrids originally bred by a Canadian breeder by that name. These may not have the wonderful fragrance of the common lilacs, but bloom a week or 10 days later and tend to be larger in all respects– leaves, flowers, and wider plants. A few of my Preston favorites are the deep pink ‘Miss Canada‘ and ‘Donald Wyman’, and the white ‘Agnes Smith’.

I often get asked what is my favorite lilac. It is hard to answer as so many, in fact most including the common species, are beautiful. The one that stands out for me and many though is ‘Krasavitsa Moskvy’, or as many know it Beauty of Moscow. It was selected by a famous Russian breeder in 1947 from an offshoot of ‘Belle de Nancy’– one of the French Lemoine hybrids. The pink buds open into creamy white flowers tinged with pink, a silvery opal color.

How to prune a lilac

When it comes to pruning lilacs, experts have a couple of opinions. Some (such as myself) only prune branches as needed, eventually removing about a third of old branches each year. This allows the plant energy to produce new branches. Eventually, most lilacs will get very tall, with most of the flowers appearing at the top. This makes the blooms hard to see up close, but fine from home windows, the street, or at a distance. Plus, with some pruning of lower branches, you can appreciate the attractive stem architecture.

Others like to prune about a third of new growth off each year, back to sideshoots, not sheared like a hedge. This keeps plants and their flowers lower, but sacrifices the natural shape and effect of the stems. If you need to prune lilac branches that are obstacles, or crossing and rubbing on each other, do so right after bloom.

Lilac pests and diseases

The main problem you may see with lilacs is the white powdery mildew disease on leaves. This will be most common if your site has late morning dew and little air circulation. Powdery Mildew is more of an aesthetic issue with lilacs and doesn’t cause enough harm to plants to warrant treating. During very wet springs some branches may suddenly wilt, and their tips turn black. This is a blight which should only come once, and new buds should emerge from stems in a few weeks. Occasionally a lilac may get small rounded brown bumps, or scales, which can be treated by cutting off the infected branches.

A version of this article originally appeared on the University of Vermont’s Department of Plant and Soil Science website.

Planting Lilacs

Successfully establishing a new shrub in your yard starts with your planting site and method. Make sure you give your plants the right foundation! All Stark shrubs can be planted as a hedge forming a beautiful living fence. Space privets 8″-12” apart and lilacs 3′-5’ apart.

NOTE: This is part 3 in a series of 8 articles. For a complete background on how to grow lilacs, we recommend starting from the beginning.

Planting Steps

  • Before planting: soak roots in a tub or large trash can of water for one to two hours to keep them from drying while you dig. Do not soak more than six hours. DO NOT expose roots to freezing temperatures while planting. Your trees and plants may be planted even when temperatures are quite cool. Generally, as long as your soil is workable, it is fine to plant. If a hard frost is expected, it is advisable to delay planting for a while until temperatures become more moderate.
  • Dig the hole deep and wide enough so the root system has plenty of room. (Keep the topsoil in a separate pile so you can put it in the bottom of the hole, where it’ll do the most good.)
  • Roots grow better in soil that’s been loosened, so mix in our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium into your pile of topsoil. You can also use dehydrated cow mature, garden compost or peat moss (up to 1/3 concentration).
  • Fill the hole, putting the topsoil back in first. You can avoid creating air pockets by working the soil carefully around the roots and tamping down firmly.
  • Create a rim of soil around the planting hole 2” above ground level. This allows water to stand and soak in. (In the fall, spread soil evenly around tree to prevent damage from water freezing around the plant.)


  • Water your new shrub. Deep, thorough soaking is best, with a solution of Stark® Tre-Pep® Fertilizer. (If planting in the fall, wait to fertilize until spring for best results.) This effective starter fertilizer helps trees and plants grow quickly and vigorously. After watering, if soil compacts, be sure to add enough soil to fill the hole to ground level.

Potted Shrubs

  • Make sure the pot is well watered and nicely moist to ease the stress of transplanting.
  • Dig a hole larger than the size of the root-ball to thoroughly loosen the surrounding soil.
  • Backfill the hole until it is large enough to accommodate the root-ball.
  • Shrubs should be planted at the same depth they grew in the pot.
  • Potted shrubs generally do not need such pruning at transplant time. In later years, your shrub may be trimmed to keep it in bounds.

One final point: Please be sure to remove the nametag from your plant. As the plant grows, this small piece of plastic can choke off the circulation, damaging or killing it. If you’d like to keep the tag on your plant, retie it loosely with soft twine.

In This Series

  • Introduction

Getting Started

  • Acclimate
  • Planting

Care & Maintenance

  • Fertilizing
  • Pest & Disease Control
  • Pruning
  • Spraying
  • Watering

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