Lush, healthy trees are beautiful. They’re a majestic addition to any lawn or yard, they provide much needed shade in the summer, and some even bear tasty fruit. We plant them in memory of loved ones and care for them as meticulously as we do our lawns and gardens.
However, there are some drawbacks of planting and having trees, especially when they’re planted close to underground pipes. The main concern with trees is that their roots grow and spread and can eventually compromise the integrity of home sewer lines. We typically think that any utility lines buried underground are always safe, no matter what nature throws at us on the surface; they’re not subject to high winds, brutal blizzards, or soaking rains. However, tree roots are always a concern when it comes to sewer lines. What should you know as a homeowner? Read on.
Old Lines Are Most At Risk
It may seem like an odd question: why would a tree root discriminate between old and new sewer lines? But consider the key difference between a new, solid sewer line and an old, somewhat compromised line: moisture. Simply put, new lines are completely water tight, while old lines may have cracks that allow some moisture to seep through to the ground soil. Tree roots seek out sources of moisture to provide the tree with water and nutrients, so they’re more likely to grow toward an old line. What’s more, older sewer lines are often not buried as deep as newer ones, making them more susceptible to tree root invasion.
Once the tree roots discover the source of moisture from a slightly damaged old sewer line, a problem can escalate very quickly. The roots can grow into the line, damaging it further and obstructing the flow. Before you know it, there’s a back up, which is a messy and potentially expensive fix.
What to Plant and Where
If you’re considering planting some new trees on your property, there are some that will potentially do minimal damage. Slow growing trees, especially dwarf varieties, won’t send out roots quite as fast as other species like sycamore, oak, or ash. Similarly, if you have fast growing trees on your property, you’ll want to monitor them and your sewer line closely so you can catch any problems earlier rather than later.
As for where to plant new trees, you obviously want to stay as far away from trenchless sewer lines as you can. While tree roots do travel, giving them enough distance minimizes the chances that they’ll grow over to your line. And of course, before you plant, it’s always a wise idea to call your local municipality and ask for a service person come out to your property and mark where the line is located.
Keep Your Sewer Line Intact!
While it’s true that tree roots can destroy your home’s sewer line, they absolutely don’t have to. If you’re the owner of an older home with an older sewer line, it’s a good idea to have your line regularly inspected by a qualified professional. He or she will need to check for things like cracks and the beginning stages of intrusion, then offer advice on repair options. If your sewer line is newer, keep it in good shape by keeping tree roots away as much as possible. You don’t have to be the unlucky recipient of a compromised sewer line, and if you’re mindful of tree roots on your property, you won’t be.