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Trees That Help to Prevent Floods

Updated on July 17, 2019
Vellur profile image

A graduate in botany, Nithya Venkat enjoys writing about plants that help sustain life on planet Earth.

Trees to Help Prevent Flooding
Trees to Help Prevent Flooding | Source

Floods occur when heavy rain falls in low-lying areas that do not have proper drainage systems. Floods can also occur when rivers and lakes overflow due to heavy rainfall or when a dam breaks down.

Flash floods occur within a few hours after a heavy rainfall. In these types of floods, places are flooded in a matter of seconds.

Flash floods occur mostly due to slow moving thunderstorms. They can be very dangerous in narrow canyons and valleys. In such places, the rainwater rushes down rapidly flooding the area.

How trees help to prevent flooding?

The roots of the trees penetrate deep into the soil. As the roots grow deep into the soil, they loosen the soil and create many empty spaces between the soil particles. When there is a heavy rainfall the rainwater runs down into these spaces created by the roots. Due to this rainwater does not flood the area.

Trees break the flow of water to the ground and slows down the speed at which rainwater reaches the ground. This gives enough time for the rainwater to seep into the soil and prevent the rise of water level.

The extensive root system of trees absorbs huge quantities of rainwater. Many trees can absorb a large volume of rainwater thereby preventing flooding.

The roots of trees hold the topsoil together and prevent chunks of soil from blocking the rivers and streams. This helps rainwater to flow continuously and prevent flooding of nearby areas.

Weeping Willow
Weeping Willow | Source

Weeping Willows

Weeping Willows (Salix babylonica) are attractive, ornamental trees that are planted in parks, near rivers and ponds. They can grow up to a height of 50 meters and have a width of 40 feet. Weeping Willows have drooping branches with small narrow leaves.

The Weeping Willow is too large to be planted in a garden. The root system of this tree grows two to three times the diameter of the tree canopy. The extensive root system helps to absorb large volumes of rainwater and prevents flooding.

Weeping Willows should be planted in wet soil areas and away from buildings. The roots of the Weeping Willows penetrate deep into the soil and have an extensive growth. The extensive root system of these trees can cause buildings to crack and block underground pipes.

Bald Cypress
Bald Cypress | Source

Bald Cypress

Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) is a deciduous conifer. These trees can grow up to a height of 80 feet and have a diameter of 30 feet. It grows well in moist, well-drained soils and dry soils. They are seen growing at the edge of water bodies with their roots partially submerged in water. Their root system can absorb large volumes of water during rainfall and prevent flooding.

Bald Cypress trees growing in swamps have unique projections near their base called “cypress knees.” The “cypress knees” supports the Bald Cypress tree and roots the tree firmly to the ground.

The Bald Cypress trees are known to survive strong winds and hurricanes. Their extensive root system prevents soil erosion and slows down the speed of rapidly flowing water.

Birch Trees
Birch Trees | Source

River Birch Tree

The River Birch Tree (Betula nigra) also known as red birch, black birch or water birch grows in thickets on the river and lake shores. It also grows well in flood plains and sandy areas. The

The River Birch is a deciduous tree that has a height range of 50 feet to 90 feet. This tree grows well in moist soils and can tolerate extremely wet soil conditions. River Birch trees help to control soil erosion and to reclaim areas with soil that are highly acidic.

The roots of the Birch Tree rapidly grow and branch out seeking sources of water. The extensive root networking of the Birch Trees helps to prevent soil erosion and prevent flooding of nearby areas. The River Birch Trees should not be planted near buildings, water or drainage pipes because the growth of the strong roots will penetrate, weaken and break these structures.

Riparian Habitat River Tributary to Lake Erie
Riparian Habitat River Tributary to Lake Erie | Source

Box Elder Tree

The Box Elder Tree (Acer negundo) is species that is native to North America. Box Elder is also known as Boxelder Maple or Maple Ash. The Box Elder tree grows up to 33 – 82 feet tall and has a trunk diameter of 12 – 20 inches. These trees usually have several trunks and form dense thickets.

The Box Elder trees grow well in flood plains and in areas where there is plenty of water supply. These trees grow well in “riparian habitats”. Riparian habitats are plant habitats found along river margins and river banks. The Box Elder trees found near rivers and streams help in controlling floods by absorbing the excess runoff rainwater and prevents the nearby areas from flooding.

More Trees That Help To Prevent Flooding

Common Name
Botanical Name
Silver Maple
Abrus rubrum
Common Alder
Alnus glutinosa
America hornbeam
Carpinus caroliniana
Carya illinoensis
Fringe Tree
Chionanthus virginicus
Deciduous holly
Ilex decuda
Cherry bark oak
Quercus falcata
American Elm
Ulmus americana
Swamp Chestnut Oak
Quercus bicolor
Sweetbay Magnolia
Magnolia virginiana
American Holly
Ilex opaca
Loblolly Pine
Pinus taeda


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Nithya Venkat


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    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 years ago from Dubai

      Daisy am glad you enjoyed. Thank you for stopping by.

      BeatsMe trees do a great deal to prevent floods. Thank you for stopping by.

    • BeatsMe profile image


      4 years ago

      I have always thought that trees had helped a lot in the past to prevent floods in our area. Even though we don't have trees like the ones in your hub. :)

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 

      4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Nithya (Vellur),

      I enjoy reading Hubs in which I learn something new. Thank you for publishing this very important article.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      5 years ago from Dubai

      nonaweeks it is sad that you lost a customer. Great that they are trying to prevent floods. It is really sad to see trees being cut down without a second thought. Thank you for your visit.

    • nonaweeks profile image

      Nona Weeks 

      5 years ago from Florissant, CO

      I have learned first hand how important trees are to help prevent flooding. I live in Colorado, US. We had two major fires a couple of years ago, then last year we had a lot of floods due to the loss of hundreds of acres of trees. I even lost a customer from my place of employment due to him being caught in a flash flood. The are now doing irrigation and trying to help prevent floods in those areas. Terrible tragedy, but it taught me the importance of preventing fires and the importance of the trees in the area.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      5 years ago from Dubai

      aesta1 I really hope the birch trees survive, thank you for stopping by.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We have birch trees in our lakeside place but several are dying. I hope the others continue to lie and protect us from the flooding.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      5 years ago from Dubai

      ChitrangadaSharan thank you for stopping by. Thanks for the vote and share.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very nice, informative and useful hub!

      So important to plant trees and that too, which can hold the soil better.

      Voted up and sharing on HH!

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      5 years ago from Dubai

      Anita lesic thank you.

    • Anita lesic profile image

      Dream Lover 

      5 years ago from Zagreb

      very useful information ;)

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      Audrey thank you and yes birch trees are great.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      6 years ago from California

      Very interesting hub! I love birch trees and they don't grow near me--

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      Gypsy Rose Lee thank you for your visit. Thanks for sharing too.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      6 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

      Interesting and informative hub. I love trees of all kinds and weeping willows are among my favorites. Thanks for sharing. Passing this on.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      Nell Rose it does make sense given that weeping willows really take in lot of water and their roots grow towards sources of water. Thank you for the vote up and share.

      tillsontitan thank you, trees help a great deal to prevent floods. Thank you for the many votes.

      WiccanSage thank you cutting down trees will be detrimental to the environment and destroy ecosystems. Thank you for stopping by.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 

      6 years ago

      Useful information-- I live in a community so I have no control over the trees because they do the landscaping; but I read about how the logging of trees has contributed about a lot of flooding and mudslides, and I can't believe it can still be legal to do in flood-prone areas. I am a fan of weeping willows-- they are so beautiful. Great hub.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      In this time of so much flooding and destruction from rain this article couldn't be more useful. Where would we be without trees?

      This was a great idea for a hub Vellur and contains so much interesting information.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Great information Vellur, and it actually makes sense on something I learned only the other day. I live inland, but near a river, but even that is at least half a mile away, and there is a weeping willow tree outside our block of houses. And then someone told me that years ago this area was in fact next to a lake! how about that? wonderful hub, voted up and shared, nell

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      MariteCoetser yes, so true. Trees are our best friends, thank you for stopping by.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Trees also produce oxygen and so many products needed by humans, so they are mankind's best friend.

      Important information about trees, thank you, vellur :)

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      midget38 thank God for trees, thank you for stopping by.

      always exploring tress help in preventing floods. There are trees that you can plant in the garden and there are grasses that will keep the soil around the house dry.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Interesting hub Vellur. We have been having some serious flooding here. We had 8 inches of rain. Thank goodness for trees. I was unaware. Thank you for sharing...

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Good erosion preventers they are.Thanks for sharing, Nithya, and I am too!

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      DDE thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

      Eiddwen thank you for stopping by.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      6 years ago from Wales

      Interesting and so very useful


    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Informative, useful and most helpful indeed. A well-advised hub and presented with lovely photos.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      srsddn thank you, we must save planet earth for our future generations.

      billybuc thank you for stopping by, clear-cutting causes a lot of damage to the environment.

      Jackie Lynnley thank you for stopping by. Cypress trees are gorgeous and grow fast in wet soil.

      Faith Reaper thank you, great that you want to plant more trees. Thank you for the vote up and share.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      6 years ago from southern USA

      Great hub full of interesting information! I am terrified of rising water or flash flooding, and good to know about the trees! I need to plant more of them for sure.

      Up and more and sharing

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      6 years ago from the beautiful south

      Yes I know about trees and those weeping willows are just great at drinking up that water, but they have tiny little bugs, so if it is near your house may want to consider things like that. Oh those gorgeous! I love planting trees and if you put one in a wet spot it will grow really fast! Great info!! ^

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This is a very important article. It helps explain why clear-cutting causes so much damage....nice research and well-written.

    • srsddn profile image


      6 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

      vellur, very useful information. I think we should plant trees for our future generations. The variety of trees suggested by you is really interesting. The short video is quite thought-provoking.


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