For the most part, it's a huge pleasure and privilege to have tall trees in your garden. They look beautiful, they clean the air around your home, and they can provide shade for your home so that it doesn't overheat in those extremely hot Australian summer months. But, although trees look peaceful when they are standing tall in your garden, they are powerful living things, and they could destroy your pipes and plumbing.
Why are trees a threat to home plumbing?
When you look at a tree in your garden, what you aren't seeing are the strong roots that grow for metres underneath the ground and splay out in all directions. These roots are the essential foundation of the tree. They seek out water and nutrients from the soil, and they form a base for strong growth so that trees don't topple over. For this reason, roots are really good news – they keep your trees strong and healthy. But the pipes that take waste and water out of your home are often perforated, or could have cracks, and the roots of your trees want to get to that water. This is why roots can break pipes, clog them, and effectively destroy a drainage and plumbing system.
Is there anything that can be done about this?
There is no way of telling exactly where roots are going to spread and grow, but there are some ways of minimising the risk of your drainage system being destroyed.
First of all, when planting new trees, don't plant them close to your house but on the other side of the garden. Of course, you might have moved into a home that already has trees close to the home, so this isn't always an option.
If the tree is close to your home, you really have to decide whether you work on the plumbing or you work on the tree. If your pipes are old, they might be due for an update anyway, in which case, leave your tree alone and have your pipes refitted. Clay pipes are easily penetrated by tree roots, so these are a bad idea, but PVC pipes are highly resistant to tree roots, so these are a better choice.
On the other hand, you might be just too scared about what a tree could do to your plumbing and the structure of home. In this case, it's time to call a professional tree management company. You have two options here. First of all, the tree specialists can cut the roots back. This won't prevent further growth, so this will have to be done regularly, but it will mean that your beautiful tree can remain in your garden. Secondly, you could hire the tree management company to cut down the tree and remove all of its roots at the same time so you never have this worry again.