Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - July 16, 2014

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Controlling Tree Roots in Sewer Lines
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

We had a leak with our underground pipes near the meter box - the pipes are at least a foot or more underground. My plumber poured table salt on the pipes to deter roots from a nearby tree from getting close to the pipes. Is this harmful to the tree and grass above ground?

ANSWER:

There are references online about flushing salt (usually rock salt) regularly down the toilet to keep tree roots from growing into sewer lines. The rock salt is dissolved in hot water and poured down the toilet at night. This is usually recommended after situations when there have been sewer problems from tree roots and the roots have been removed by a plumbing professional. The frequency of using salt for this purpose and the amount of salt used cover a wide range and doesn’t appear to be very scientific or research-based. There are also other remedies suggested online such as using copper sulfate to clear tree roots from sewer lines.

Mr. Smarty Plants recommends using a commercial product specifically formulated for deterring roots from growing in sewer lines. This way there will be a specific instructions on when to use it, the quantity to use for a certain pipe diameter and length to the street. The product will have been tested and will be safe to use for the toilet and safe for the tree and lawn, and won’t have an effect on our future drinking water supply.

 

More Trees Questions

Pecan tree transplant in Elgin, TX
August 26, 2008 - Hello, Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a question about how to encourage a very young pecan sapling to grow, and whether I should use mulch to do so. I live in Elgin (Bastrop County) and the soil is extr...
view the full question and answer

Male and female Ilex decidua ( Possumhaw) trees
May 18, 2015 - I was excited to finally find and purchase a male and female possum haw pair via Amazon. (Berry Poppins variety). They were marked male-female and are thriving. But the male has little flowers and the...
view the full question and answer

Trouble with live oak in McKinney, TX
June 13, 2013 - We moved into a suburban home with a live oak tree with a trunk diameter of about 50". I noticed recently how yellow the leaves look compared to the other live oak in the yard. There is not a pattern...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Diospyros virginiana
July 29, 2005 - Diospyros virginiana (common persimmon) is, from what I understand, a host plant for the stunning Luna Moth caterpillar which supposedly can occur this far west. Your database entry for Diospyros do...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Live Oak tree in Jacksonville FL
February 21, 2011 - My live oak tree was planted 13 years ago as a mature young tree. Until last fall, it was full and healthy. Then leaves started turning brown and dropping. The company who cares for our lawn/shrubs ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.