Sewer Safe Trees
Property Maintenance in Bergen County
Small, slow-growing trees or shrubs are the best vegetation options, save for shallow-rooted herbaceous plants, for areas near water pipes. The nearby water pipe should be intact and in good condition. Older pipes made of concrete or clay are particularly vulnerable to root penetration. If a pipe is leaking, tree roots will grow toward the water source and may even enter and clog the pipe. Geotextiles or other root barriers, if properly installed between the root system and pipes, block or inhibit roots. Even slow-growing trees with a limited spread may require replacement after about 10 years to prevent damage.
Tree roots invade sewer lines because the pipes contain three elements necessary for tree growth: water, nutrients and oxygen. Simply put, the roots grow into the pipes because they like it there. The degree of root invasion is dependent upon the condition of the sewer line, the type of tree and the soil conditions that exist in the root zone. Trees generally have as much biomass underground as they have above ground level. Because roots grow predominately in the top 18-24 inches of the soil, the horizontal spread of the roots can be great. The planting process may be adjusted to maintain an optimum root environment so tree roots stay within that optimum environment and as far from the pipe- lines as possible.
Additional information about sewer safe trees can be viewed here.