Roots grow into drain pipes to access water, nutrients and oxygen to help in their growth. When there is a leak, the roots grow into the pipe and the flow of waste will be inhibited. This will cause the pipes to block, break and crack which in turn will be a headache to the property owner. Overgrown roots blocking the pipes can be expensive to remove so it’s best to keep them out of the pipes.


1. Location of sewer lines

Before doing any landscaping or planting, you might want to find out where the drainage or underground utilities like pipes, cables and lines are buried.  This will allow you to plan for growing roots that can disrupt your drainage system!

2. Use of chemicals

Chemical usage in root control can be both helpful and hazardous to the environment. Copper sulphate is considered safe in many states, it’s non- septic  and does not stay in pipes for long. It can be used by homeowners to treat roots by pouring it into your affected drains.

Also, pipes can be filled by metam-sodium and dichlobenil form which is more effective. The form sticks to the walls of the pipes and kills the roots within hours.  You can get hold of such chemicals from hardware stores, or from a local drain cleaning professional.

Man with shovel in trench showing old broken terracotta ceramic sewer line completely filled with invasive tree roots.

3. Planting Trees that are ‘Sewer –safe’

It’s only natural that roots of trees grow towards sewer lines. Because of this, it’s prudent to plant as few trees as possible near the sewer lines.

Pick the right type of plants that have roots that are not aggressive and wide- spreading and should be kept far from the sewer lateral line.

4. Physical Control

You can physically remove the roots that have found their way to the sewer lines  by cutting down the trees, removing and replacing the sewer lines or lining them. The best remedy though is to replace the lines that are old and damaged.

5. Mechanical Control

Even though cutting the destructive plant can be a temporary remedy because there are roots that are very stubborn and grow back after cutting and they tend to be very strong and harder.

Augers and cutters can be used to cut such stubborn roots or you can use abrasive brushes and scrapers with engine driven winches through the waste line.  Not sure if there might be a tree root affecting your pipes?  One of the easiest ways to check your pipes is with a sewer camera service, which is offered by reputable drain cleaning companies.