A tree directly next to a broken water pipe

Asked June 28, 2018, 6:31 PM EDT

Hello, We need an external main water pipe replaced. It is located directly next to a 20 year old magnolia tree. There is nowhere else to place the new water pipe because it would encroach upon the neighbor's property. The tree's roots have apparently damaged the pipe. The plumber believes that once the roots are cut, it could damage the tree which could possibly become weak and fall. Does it appear necessary that the tree has to be cut down?-Thank you,

Baltimore County Maryland

1 Response

Are you certain that the plumber couldn't re-route around the tree?
The tree doesn't necessarily need to be cut down, but if large roots are sliced you will likely have some dieback on that side of the tree.

If the tree is important to you, you might have a consultation with a tree health expert- a certified arborist, who is credentialed by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) to see if they have suggestions for how to proceed. (For instance, there are tree air spades that can blow away soil so you can see the root collar and major roots so they might be avoided).
You may be able to lessen the impact of excavation root damage by having the tree thinned out to reduce water demands.

Regardless of the type of construction damage incurred, most trees will benefit from fertilization and added irrigation. Continue these practices, as recommended, until the tree recovers or it is evident the tree has lost vigor and requires removal.

You can search for a certified arborist at www.treesaregood.org

Interestingly, tree roots do not usually bother pipes unless the pipes are leaking, then they may grow into it to use the water.