There are many benefits to be gained from trees once they are planted in the right location. On the other hand, if they are located near sewer lines they will become more of a nuisance than anything else; tree roots and sewer lines don’t mix. Tree roots are excellent at locating water and will travel several feet to locate the nourishment they need. Upon locating the sewer line, which for them is a steady water source, they will cause problems for the entire sewer system. If neglected you will need to hire a plumber or get the roots out the system. As with most things, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Prevent the problem from the beginning rather than try to fix it after it has happened.
Problem Solving When Tree Roots and Sewer Lines DO Mix
Most plumbers will suggest that you snake the drainpipe to remove as many roots as possible. Following that, apply a solution of copper sulfate to prevent roots from growing in again. You can find copper sulfate crystals in feed store’s and hardware stores. Simply spread the crystals in the soil around the sewer lines and roots will be discouraged. Sometimes just finding the sewer lines can be too difficult for the average homeowner. If that’s the case for you then I suggest hiring a plumber to help you find them.
Picture showing tree roots in a sewer line. The tree roots were left unchecked and broke the pipe.
Once the line has been located, remove the plug and pour the copper sulfate solution into it. Make the solution using hot water which will melt the crystals faster. It will require several applications to see results. Most plumbers recommend that the solution be reapplied every four months in a long-term effort to prevent root growth. Another option is to use a foaming copper sultfate agent which will completely coat the insides of the sewer lines.
We all know that trees ‘drink’ through their roots; however, when they find their way to the sewer line then they will create serious issues. To prevent this from happening and still allowing trees to find alternate water sources to live on you will need to encourage the roots to look elsewhere. Copper sulfate is one of the safest ways of doing just that, but don’t over do it. You don’t want to contaminate the drinking water of animals or humans with too much copper sulfate. Whenever you are planning to plant a tree, just remember, tree roots and sewer lines don’t mix.