Explore Plants

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
    
 

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
2 ratings

Saturday - July 13, 2013

From: Wallingford, CT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Pruning, Problem Plants, Trees
Title: Will catalpa roots damage a nearby swimming pool?
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Will a catalpa tree cause problems to my swimming pool? It is 8 feet away and I cut all the branches off every fall. It then grows back to about 6 feet in diameter an makes a great garden feature but I am worried if it will hurt my pool. It is about 9 years old now. Thanks so much

ANSWER:

Most arborists would say that 8 feet is too close to your pool.  But I have not read of any case of damage to pools or house foundations by catalpa roots.  However, both the Catalpa speciosa (Northern catalpa), which I expect you have, or the Catalpa bignonioides (Southern catalpa) have extensive root systems.  My biggest cause for concern is whether your pool may have a hairline crack, leading to a slow seepage of water in the direction of the tree.  Tree roots tend to grow strongly in the direction of any water source.  So the first step is to inspect the pool for possible leaks.

I would suggest that at the time that you trim branches off in the fall you also dig a trench parallel to and about two feet from the end of the pool.  Trim off cleanly any tree roots that are growing towards the pool and bury some kind of root deflector to prevent roots from growing past that point.  These deflectors, or root barriers, can be found advertized on the Internet.  I have myself found this particular product to be sturdy.  Few large roots would grow towards the pool at a depth exceeding eighteen inches, so your deflector should extend to two feet below the surface.  To further reduce the chances of root problems, restrict any hand watering of the tree to the side away from the pool.

You are already aware of the positive and negative attributes of Catalpa trees. Trimming off the branches does prevent the dropping of seed pods during the winter.  With care you should be able continue growing your tree without harm to the pool.

 

From the Image Gallery


Northern catalpa
Catalpa speciosa

Southern catalpa
Catalpa bignonioides

More Trees Questions

Ashe Juniper not doing well in San Antonio
April 08, 2010 - A large ash juniper (mountain cedar) in my yard appears to be sick or dying. Approximately 1/4 of the canopy has very sparse needles/green foliage stuff and shaggier than normal bark. It's not brown ...
view the full question and answer

Tree roots breaking surface in Allen, TX
March 09, 2009 - I live in Northern Texas, near Dallas. My questions concerns a tree in my front yard that now has roots that break the surface of the soil and grass. I would like to cover the roots. Should I cover...
view the full question and answer

Recently planted live oak tree in Boerne, TX
February 07, 2009 - My brother planted a live oak in August. It was from a nursery and had a root ball. It looks dead but I keep watering it. The trunk is about 6 inches around. The leaves died but when the winds came th...
view the full question and answer

Rocky Mountain Juniper Grazed by Deer
April 29, 2013 - I have four Colorado red cedar (Juniperus scopulorum). The deer have eaten from their height down. Now these narrow top to bottom evergreens have only tops left. Will the bottom fill in if I protect t...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestion for a tree with a tap root in Oklahoma City, OK.
October 27, 2012 - I would like to know the best tree to plant in my area that does well. Would like a tap root tree and also a tree that will not mess with my septic lines. Thank you
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.