Gum trees are known for agressive root systems

Tree Roots Affecting Water Pipes

Tree Roots Affecting Water Pipes is a common plumbing problem, but most people don’t realise if you choose your garden trees wisely, you can avoid a costly visit from the pluber later down the track.

Many trees have extensive root systems under the ground, and some trees can cause a lot of damage by compromising the pipes below the ground, which cause blockages. Even some native species can do considerable damage and should be avoided in areas where underground pipes are present.

As tree roots dig deeper in an effort to find water, they can sometimes find their way into pipes buried underground. They don’t always crack the pipe with their strength, but they might instead work their way into existing cracks or faults in the pipe. They keep growing once they get inside the pipe, eventually totally blocking it.

Some tree species have roots that grow aggressively and they should be avoided close to waste water pipes. There are other species that are more suitable for the garden.

Trees That Should Be Avoided

Some tree roots cause more problems than others under the ground. Some species result in major damage to sewer systems underground, and should be avoided in areas where there are underground pipes, such as densely populated areas such as inner city and even on larger blocks with town water. The trees to avoid can cause significant damage:

Eucalyptus trees

At least 700 species of eucalyptus or gum trees are known to science. Most of these are found in Australia and are most famous for being the sole food for our native Koala Species. They are also famous for their extensive root systems and cover a much wider area compared to most other trees. Therefore it is not recommended to plant a eucalyptus tree close to a building or house.

Ficus Trees (fig trees)

Although ficus trees are a popular indoor plant, they could be very destructive if planted in a garden. They have a root structure similar to the eucalyptus tree, which is extensive, aggressive along with being big and powerful. If left unchecked, these roots will overwhelm a garden and eventually work their way into buried pipes.
Garden Friendly Trees

Apple Trees and Avocado Trees

Avocado and apple trees are ideal for almost any garden. Although they do have a strong and aggressive root system, they tend to stick close to the tree. As a general rule, they should not be planted closer than 2 metres to a sewer pipe in order to avoid damage.

Golden Wattle

The famous golden wattle is a bigger tree and has the root system to support it and therefore needs extra room to grow. These trees don’t have aggressive roots, but they should not be planted closer than 4 meters to wastewater pipes.


The coolabah is a eucalyptus species with a root system that isn’t overly aggressive. Even with that, they should not be any closer than 6 meters to any sewer pipe, since the roots are still strong and can still cause damage to pipes if they are too close.

Always take the location of sewer pipes into account before planting any kind of trees in your garden. Contact your nearest water supplier to gain a copy of the underground pipe configuration or if in doubt, contact your local plumber or council who can advise you which plants are suitable for your block. Sky Blue Plumbing can advise you on the best course of action if tree roots have infiltrated your underground pipes and we are well placed to fix your plumbing problems.

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