Fact: tree roots are the number one cause of blockages in sewer pipes

Why do tree roots enter pipes?

When hunting for water and nutrients, roots make sewer and water pipes prime targets. Some tree roots are as thin as a strand of hair and can snake their way through even the tiniest join between two pipes.

Why do roots cause blockages?

Once inside, roots can trap nasties put down the sewer, such as wet wipes and cooking fats. This can cause blockages, leaving you with not only an unpleasant clean-up, but an expensive plumbing bill.

How can I prevent blockages caused by roots?

Prevention is always better than a cure, because tree roots often return to the same pipe they were cleared from. Our recommendation is to consider the types of plants growing near your pipes.

Garden plants and grasses have fibrous root systems, which grow on the upper soil layers and are less likely to cause sewer line problems.

Consider what size the plant will be when it’s fully grown. We recommend slow growing trees and shrubs with non-aggressive root systems, and avoid 'tap root' systems which grow vertically downward.

Avoid planting

  • Figs
  • Bottlebrushes
  • Paperbarks

Choose to plant

  • Lemon Myrtle
  • Tulipwood
  • Native Gardenia

Ask your local nursery for recommendations.

Top tips to avoid pain in the drain

  1. Don’t plant too close to sewer pipes – as a general rule, at least three meters from the pipe.
  2. Avoid planting near freshly laid pipes as roots are attracted to softer soil.
  3. If you’re not sure where your pipes are, request a drainage plan from your local council.
  4. Call Dial Before you Dig (1100) so you know where sewer pipes and other utilities are located.
  5. Ask your local nursery to recommend plants with non-invasive roots.
  6. Install a root barrier – available from hardware stores and nurseries, root barriers are made from heavy cloth or plastic and are placed in the ground to contain a plant’s root system.
planting tree