Trees add beauty and curb appeal to our homes, but did you know that some varieties can cause major plumbing and foundation issues to your property? You’d be surprised that many of the popular trees chosen to plant around your home can have a tendency (over time) to grow roots that burrow into the cracks of your homes structure and or plumbing system. These roots can cause some major damage to your homes existing foundation, structure and pipes that lead into or out of the house.
While there are plenty of foundation and plumbing home friendly trees you can choose to plant, we’re going to focus on the ones that actually can be problematic so you can use this as a guide for some damage control when it comes to the landscaping choices of your home.
How and Why Certain Trees Can Cause Plumbing Issues
First lets quickly address how and why certain plants can invade your homes foundation or plumbing. Trees don’t just go looking for ways to cause trouble — they simply need water, nutrients or more room to grow. Certain varieties require large amounts of water to survive. So if they’re not getting enough H20, they’re going to send their roots to go searching for it and the nearest source will probably be your pipes. And typically, most pipes simply aren’t strong enough to hold off the root penetration of a thirsty tree. Another factor to consider is that the distance for a tree’s maximum height is typically the same as the distance that should be left around the tree for the root system to spread out and grow – they need plenty of room to grow upward and outward.
The list of trees below should be avoided or even removed (if possible) from your homes landscape – unless of course you have a vast property with ample room for them to grow unobtrusively.
The natural habitat of a whimsical willow tree is one that is moist and rich in nutrients. Most home yards don’t have soil capable of providing enough oxygen or hydrogen for this type of tree to survive, and it will actively go looking for it at all costs. The willow is meant to be large and grand, so it truly requires a lot of land space to flourish and grow properly.
Citrus Trees – Lemon, Mango, Orange and Grapefruit
Yummy citrus fruit trees require lots of oxygen, moisture, sunshine and nutrients. Unfortunately locations near a home or building rarely provide citrus trees with what they need which causes their roots to venture into your pipes where they grow and expand, causing major damage and problems to the surrounding pipes and home structure. HOA’s often veto the planting of citrus fruit trees for this reason.
Tall, elegant and beautiful, Birch Trees can grow anywhere from 40 to 50 feet into the air. Now imagine that a birch’s root system will grow anywhere from two to three times the maximum height of the tree. You can see how planting this tree close to your home could present a huge problem. These trees need lots of room to grow and expand their roots.
These tall trees provide desirable shade and beauty that is enticing to homeowners, but take note that all 35 varieties have extremely invasive root systems that grow rapidly near the surface, which makes them unfavorable choices for planting near homes. Poplar trees can cause significant damage because the root system can grow two to three times the height of the tree and the average height for a poplar tree is between 80 to 150 feet, meaning the roots can grow anywhere from 160 to 450 feet out from the base of the tree. Yikes! So even if they’re planted far away, they can still wreak havoc on your property.
They’re so pretty! We know! Almost magical in appearance with their large sturdy leaves to their enchanting floral blooms, Magnolia trees are simply, beautiful. But Magnolia tree roots have rather a large, rope-like appearance and structure, and these roots tend to grow along the surface of the land instead of deep into the ground. The flexibility from the rope-like roots combined with shallow surface grant these trees to cause some serious damage to a homes structure and plumbing system. The roots are pliable and will find cracks and leaks, working their way into the surrounding pipes as they pursue the nearest water source.
It takes dozens of years to reach maturity, but slow-growing root system of the majestic oak tree, can quietly ravage a home’s structure and plumbing system. An oak tree’s root system contains a main root known as the taproot which grows straight down into the ground to provide nutrients and moisture as it grows. As the oak tree matures, supplemental roots will grow laterally which can cause problems to sewer and plumbing systems. Growing up to 100 yards out from the base of the tree, the roots will work their way into the cracks of your pipes and continue to spread – causing damage and blockages to the sewer and plumbing lines.
if you have a tree that is potentially causing a problem with your plumbing, it’s advised that you have it removed or at the very least call your local plumber and have them come out and assess the problem. Often times obtrusive roots that have grown within the pipes can be removed with a process called hydro jetting – a process in which the roots or obstruction is removed via an extremely high-pressure water nozzle.
North County Plumbing has been in the service business since 1970 providing quality plumbing services including leak detection and drain service in northern San Diego County. Our qualified technicians are available 24 hours a day to help with emergency plumbing repair services… with no overtime charges! If you found this blog helpful, you may want to check out our post on What is Hydro Jetting and When is it Necessary?
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