Here’s some handy advice to help you choose suitable locations to plant your trees and shrubs. This will help minimise damage and blockages to our sewers, water mains and drains.

Roots are a growing problem

Trees and shrubs provide lots of benefits for us and the environment.

However, depending on the species, root systems can be extremely invasive. They can cause underground damage to property foundations and to water mains and sewer pipes. They can also push up footpaths and driveways, causing trip hazards.

Why does it happen?

Root systems supply trees with water and nutrients – essential for the plant to survive and grow. Root systems keep growing as the tree matures and will keep searching for water sources underground.

Roots will often find old and cracked stormwater, sewage, and water mains – as these are perfect food sources. They will continue to grow inside these pipes causing blockages that lead to overflows and flooding. The extent of root systems varies between species.

What’s the damage?

The damaging effects that tree roots have above ground are obvious due to cracks. However, the effects are not as obvious below the ground. Below ground, water-seeking roots can damage or block our water and sewer network. In some cases, the roots of trees, such as poplars, have been found in pipes more than 30 metres away from the tree base.

From a legal aspect, property owners have the right to plant any tree or shrub species in any location within their property. However, owners are responsible for any damage caused by their trees or shrubs to nearby buildings and infrastructure. This often involves costly repairs and removal.

Keeping a distance

Download our planting guide to find suitable species for planting on pipe reserves or easements.

Planting Guide • PDF • 77 KB