When planting a tree on your property, it is important to consider unintended consequences. One day, that tiny seedling will grow into a towering tree, with an extensive underground root system which it will use to supply itself nutrients. A root system, if it reaches underground pipes, can grow around and even into these pipes. In fact, a sewage pipe becomes a perfect conduit for feeding the tree, as it provides water and nutrient materials. Even a small opening or crack can provide a root system with the means to invade and grow inside the pipes. Great for the tree – not so much for the property owner, or those inhabiting affected properties nearby. When roots grow inside pipes, you will find that your home’s waste water cannot drain properly. This can cause sewage back-up in your home, which is never pleasant.
There are certain species of tree which are notorious for their ability to choke and destroy sewerage and stormwater drains. You should avoid planting these in residential areas, or the long-term damage will be problematic and costly in years to come.
Some species are so aggressive that you need a large clearance of at least ten metres between the planting site and any underground drains and pipes. Common highly aggressive tree types to avoid include: gum trees, jacarandas, oaks, pines, and poplars. While these tree are often prized for their beauty and shade-providing nature, it is not worth planting them in a spot where they can wreak havoc on your underground infrastructure. Many of these species are best considered as forest trees.
See below for the full list of trees which should not be planted within ten metres of pipes:
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Black Bean||Castanospermum austral|
|Brush box||Lophostemon Confertus|
|Bunya pine||Araucaria bidwillii|
|Gum trees||Eucalyptus species|
|Hoop pint||Araucaria cunninghamii|
|Norfolk Island pine||Araucaria hetcropshylla|
|Plane trees||Platanus species|
|Silky oak||Grevillia robusta|
There is an even longer list of tree species which should not be planted within three metres of drains and pipes. In other words, if you have a large yard which does not have pipes running through it, you could consider planting these trees. However, you would want to verify the location of any underground infrastructure prior to planting the tree.
This three-metre warning list includes many plants which are considered ornamental in Australian yards. Banksias, bird of paradise, bottlebrush, camellia, frangipani, lasiandras, rubber plants, and wattle are among the most common trees and plants to avoid too closely to a sewer line. Bamboo plants are also to be avoided. Bamboo is notorious for taking over any area in which it is planted, and this applies to its underground root system as well. For many of these plants which are risky to your underground pipes, it is best to give them a miss or keep small versions as potted plants.
See the below list for more examples of trees which should be given space of at least three metres from any pipes or drains.
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Bauhinia (shrub species )||Bauhinia species|
|Cassia (shrub species )||Cassia species|
|Coral tree||Erthrina species|
|Crepe myrtle||Lagerstrocmia indica|
|Flame tree||Brachychiton accritblium|
|Grevillea ( smaller species )||Grevillea species|
|Lilly pilly||Syzygium species|
|Pampas grass||Cortaderia selloana|
|Pride of Bolivia tree||Tipuana speciosa|
|Rubber trees||Ficus elastics|
|Tea-tree ( smaller species )||Leptospermum species|
|While cedar||Melia azederach|
Another option when planting a tree is to install a root barrier. These consist of thick material which prevents roots growing past a certain extent. While you should still avoid the above list of high risk trees and plants, this can be a way of preventing damage from plants which may be considered lower risk if they are to be placed near any sewer lines.
If you already have high risk trees planted near a sewer line, but have not experienced plumbing issues, you can arrange for a drain inspection using a CCTV drain camera. Get in touch with us at Sydney Blocked Drains to arrange your inspection.
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