En Español

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

Mystery Fruit in Ashland Oregon
November 10, 2010 - Hi, I live in Oregon and while I was picking wild apples I came across what I thought was a lemon tree. I picked some of the smaller fruits that grew in pairs and had a small, yellow lemon appearance ...
view the full question and answer

Source for Desert Willow from Dallas
October 03, 2011 - I'm looking for a source for chilopsis linearis. I live in Dallas, TX. None of the specialty nurseries in Dallas seem to be able to source it. Is there any local source? Is there any source withi...
view the full question and answer

Oak leaf hydrangeas from Edwardsville IL
August 13, 2012 - Hello, I live in West Central Illinois (across the river from St. Louis) and I am considering planting several Oak leaf Hydrangea's in my yard. The location where I would like to plant them is und...
view the full question and answer

Tree for South Dakota
April 24, 2012 - Sir, I am looking for suggestions on a backyard tree, nice shade tree 60-80' height to complement a split foyer house and a flowering crab that is currently there. Low maintenance, with no seeds or c...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for shade in Ennis TX
August 26, 2011 - My house faces south. The southwest side of the front yard has a Pride of Houston, Japanese Barberry, 2 crape myrtles and some dwarf yaupon hollies. The other section, divided by a stairway to the p...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center