How Far Away From a House to Plant a Magnolia Tree?

The bright and distinctive magnolia tree produces vibrant, green leaves and white or gray flowers. These decorative trees are commonly used in landscapes as border markers and privacy screens. Taking into account their large spread and root system when planting ensures they will not interfere with your house or other structures.

Magnolia trees have wide foliage spread and even wider roots.

Foliage Spread

The magnolia tree's foliage reaches up to 30 feet from the tree, which can create a problem near the house. Branches rub against windows or siding when blown by the wind or when not given enough room to spread. This creates damage such as wearing or shattering glass. Pruning controls this spread. Careful pruning practices keep the tree looking more like a privacy hedge or shrub than an expanding, branching, giant tree.

Root Spread

The extensive underground root system is even larger than the magnolia's foliage spread. If unhindered, the roots extend from the bottom of the trunk out to four times as wide as the foliage. A healthy magnolia tree has a root spread as wide as 120 feet in diameter. Roots damage house foundations, create bumps and cracks in walkways and pathways and grow into drainage and sewage pipes. The only way to ensure that the roots will not damage your home plant magnolias far enough away to allow the roots to spread.


A fully grown magnolia tree reaches 40 to 60 feet high. The foliage hovering above your home provides shade for the house, as well as any nearby plants. Make sure the tree's height does not interfere with overhead power lines.

Other Considerations

When choosing the type or cultivar to plant, discuss your options with a professional landscaper or gardener. Some cultivars grow smaller than others. If you know that your space allotment is limited, plant one that does not grow as tall or wide as the larger cultivars. A shorter, thinner tree also produces smaller roots. Along with your house, take sidewalks, pathways, driveways and garden fixtures into account when planting the magnolia, as the foliage and roots damage these as well.