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Trees are a necessity in urban landscaping, but when the roots grow and aggressively spread, they can end up becoming a threat to sidewalks and underground utilities, such as water pipes. If the pipes have a leak, the roots will find their way in and damage the water pipes, affecting the way your toilets, showers and sinks drain. This can lead to sewage leaks and unsanitary conditions that will cost you thousands of dollars to repair. 

There is one way to avoid such costly repairs and protect your pipes without putting a halt to planting beautiful trees for aesthetic and environmental value: planting the right kind of trees. 

Suitable species of trees can protect water pipes and add greenery to the environment. It’s better to opt for small shrubs, bushy vegetation or small trees with shallow roots that take time to mature. This keeps the water pipes in the area intact. Even if there are older pipes with cracks that are vulnerable to root penetration, smaller, shorter roots growing nearby won’t have the length or strength to invade and clog them. 

Protection for your Landscape

Before you start landscaping or planting, it’s a good idea to know where the cables, lines and pipes are located. It also helps to know about the barriers available to prevent roots from growing into sewer lines. There are chemicals available such as copper sulphate and potassium hydroxide that inhibit root growth near sewer lines. Metal and plastic shields and wood barriers near the pipes stop the roots from advancing towards the pipes. The holes in these barriers let the roots slip through but prevent further growth.


There are permeable fabrics with meshes available called geotextiles to protect and save the pipes from the roots. Made of synthetic fibres, these are used in environmental and landscape architecture to separate, filter and distribute the load of roots on soils. Geotextiles offer a permanent solution so the protection is long-term. Planting Site Location

Prepare the landscaping area at least 10 feet away from the water pipes. This ensures that the roots are away even after the trees grow to their full height. The roots will spread out where there is the least resistance, as long as the soil is hydrated and nutrient-rich. The root barrier should extend below the soil surface to at least two feet in depth and five feet in width, away from the water pipes. 

Plants to Avoid to Safeguard Plumbing

Very few are aware that planting trees for landscaping can affect your plumbing but now that you know, make sure to plant fewer trees near the sewer lines and know which plants are best for your plumbing. 

  • Avoid oak trees as the roots grow straight down, making your sewer pipes and drainage susceptible to damage. 
  • Stay away from plants with strong roots, such as holly bushes.
  • Willows look for large quantities of water to grow and will likely grow towards the pipes. Avoid these.
  • Ivy grows rapidly and birch trees have a strong root system that may branch out towards your sewer lines, guaranteeing damage.

If you have drain problems, clogging or roots growing into your sewer pipes in Winnipeg, don’t wait. Call Aslan Plumbing & Drain Cleaning Service to schedule service and protect your plumbing at once. We replace and fix plumbing issues, unclog toilets and drain lines, repair leaking pipes, offer plumbing inspection and flood protection services to keep your property safe.