En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - January 14, 2010

From: Hudson, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Will Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) roots cause problems in a leach field?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

A new neighbor is concerned my Arbovitae's root system will go into his leach field. His house has been there also for the same amount of time as the tree and the field. The tree is 45 years old. Do I have to worry?

ANSWER:

Well, I think if your house and your neighbor's house with its leach field have been there for the 45 years that your  Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae) has been growing and there hasn't been a problem so far, then there isn't likely to be a problem.  Virginia Cooperative Extension has an article, Planting on Your Septic Drain Field, that gives guidelines about distances for planting trees from leach lines.  The article classifies several trees according to their aggressiveness for invading a drain field.  Unfortunately, arborvitae isn't one of the species listed, but I couldn't find any indication that arborvitae is considered to have particularly invasive roots.  The article recommends a distance of 25 to 60 or 70 feet from the leach field depending on the aggressiveness of the tree.  If your arborvitae is closer than 25 feet to your neighbor's field and he is exceptionally worried about its roots invading, you should suggest that he put in a root barrier (see the Virginia Cooperative Extension article above) between his field and your tree.

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Problems with non-native Chinaberry tree from Tucson AZ
September 05, 2013 - I have a 30+ year old Chinaberry tree and this year the branches are much sparser with leaves and there are a lot of small dead branches. Should I fertilize and what should I use? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Advocacy of non-native plants.
December 10, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Instead of asking a question, I would like to comment on the seemingly discouraging tone on growing plants or trees out of their native habitat that I have observed from rea...
view the full question and answer

Native invasives question from Arlington MA
May 20, 2011 - When I searched your website for creepers in Massachusetts, I found the following recommendations: Campsis radicans and Parthenocissus quinquefolia. But in response to a reader's question, you called...
view the full question and answer

Walnut tree root coming through basement floor in Portland, OR
February 10, 2009 - I have a walnut tree root coming through my basement floor. I need advice as to what will it do to tree when I remove the root, like another root though a different part of my home. It is a large tree...
view the full question and answer

Controlling Thermopsis rhombifolia (buffalo bean) in Mozambique
May 19, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty, Please,can you assist. We have a plot on a dam in Mozambique. It has been invaded with Thermopsis rhombifolia (we call it buffalo bean), it is very hardy and if you fall in it or j...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center