Common trees that should not be planted near drains

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Common trees that should not be planted near drains


When planting a tree on your property, it is important to consider unintended consequences. One day, that tiny seedling will grow into a towering tree, with an extensive underground root system which it will use to supply itself nutrients. A root system, if it reaches underground pipes, can grow around and even into these pipes. In fact, a sewage pipe becomes a perfect conduit for feeding the tree, as it provides water and nutrient materials. Even a small opening or crack can provide a root system with the means to invade and grow inside the pipes. Great for the tree – not so much for the property owner, or those inhabiting affected properties nearby. When roots grow inside pipes, you will find that your home’s waste water cannot drain properly. This can cause sewage back-up in your home, which is never pleasant.

There are certain species of tree which are notorious for their ability to choke and destroy sewerage and stormwater drains. You should avoid planting these in residential areas, or the long-term damage will be problematic and costly in years to come.

Some species are so aggressive that you need a large clearance of at least ten metres between the planting site and any underground drains and pipes. Common highly aggressive tree types to avoid include: gum trees, jacarandas, oaks, pines, and poplars. While these tree are often prized for their beauty and shade-providing nature, it is not worth planting them in a spot where they can wreak havoc on your underground infrastructure. Many of these species are best considered as forest trees.

See below for the full list of trees which should not be planted within ten metres of pipes:

Common Name Scientific Name
Black Bean Castanospermum austral
Brush box Lophostemon Confertus
Bunya pine Araucaria bidwillii
Figs Ficus species
Gum trees Eucalyptus species
Hackbcrry Cchis species
Hoop pint Araucaria cunninghamii
Jacaranda Jacaranda mimosifolia
Norfolk Island pine Araucaria hetcropshylla
Oaks Quercus species
Pine Pinus species
Plane trees Platanus species
Poinciana Delonix regia
Poplars Populus species
Sheoaks Casuarina species
Silky oak Grevillia robusta


There is an even longer list of tree species which should not be planted within three metres of drains and pipes. In other words, if you have a large yard which does not have pipes running through it, you could consider planting these trees. However, you would want to verify the location of any underground infrastructure prior to planting the tree.

This three-metre warning list includes many plants which are considered ornamental in Australian yards. Banksias, bird of paradise, bottlebrush, camellia, frangipani, lasiandras, rubber plants, and wattle are among the most common trees and plants to avoid too closely to a sewer line. Bamboo plants are also to be avoided. Bamboo is notorious for taking over any area in which it is planted, and this applies to its underground root system as well. For many of these plants which are risky to your underground pipes, it is best to give them a miss or keep small versions as potted plants.


See the below list for more examples of trees which should be given space of at least three metres from any pipes or drains.

Common Name Scientific Name
Adelia Adelia species
Bamboo Phyllostachys species
Banksia Banksia species
Bauhinia (shrub species ) Bauhinia species
Bird-of-paradise Sterlitzia reginae
Bottlebrush Callistemon species
Bougainvillea Bougainvillea species
Camellia Camellia species
Cassia (shrub species ) Cassia species
Coral tree Erthrina species
Crepe myrtle Lagerstrocmia indica
Flame tree Brachychiton accritblium
Frangipani Plumeria species
Grevillea ( smaller species ) Grevillea species
Hibiscus Hibiscus species
Lasiandra Tibouchina species
Lilly pilly Syzygium species
Liquidambar Liquidambar styraciflua
Oleander Nerium oleander
Pampas grass Cortaderia selloana
Paperbarks Melaleuca species
Pride of Bolivia tree Tipuana speciosa
Privet Ligustrum species
Rubber trees Ficus elastics
Tea-tree ( smaller species ) Leptospermum species
Wattles Acacia species
While cedar Melia azederach
Wisteria Wisteria sinensis

Another option when planting a tree is to install a root barrier. These consist of thick material which prevents roots growing past a certain extent. While you should still avoid the above list of high risk trees and plants, this can be a way of preventing damage from plants which may be considered lower risk if they are to be placed near any sewer lines.

If you already have high risk trees planted near a sewer line, but have not experienced plumbing issues, you can arrange for a drain inspection using a CCTV drain camera. Get in touch with us at Sydney Blocked Drains to arrange your inspection.

Have a question or want to request a quote?

Please contact us to get in touch. One of our friendly team members will get back to you as soon as possible.

One of the Director of Sydney Blocked Drains.

Patrick Noone

Director of Sydney Blocked Drains

Patrick Noone is a highly skilled and experienced professional in the plumbing industry, with a particular focus on blocked drains. As the director of Sydney Blocked Drains, he brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to every job he undertakes.

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