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San Diego homeowners don’t have to worry about freezing temperatures that can cause damage to underground drain and sewer pipes.  But local natural disasters like earthquakes, wildfire damage and flooding can move pipes around in the earth, causing pipe movement and breakage.  Pipes are often joined together with a variety of different fittings and connectors. When fittings break or slowly lose connection to each other, tree and plant roots have a remarkable tendency to squeeze into even the tiniest gaps, causing extensive (and expensive) damage and blockages that often require total pipe or partial repipe procedures.

Carini recently performed a repipe at a vintage home in this Mission Hills neighborhood. (Click here to see the whole story: https://www.cariniair.com/sewer-lateral-repipe-in-san-diegos-mission-hills/.

The Carini drain and sewer technicians removed a large covering of ivy from over the damaged sewer pipe where there was a major intrusion of ivy roots in multiple sections of the galvanized piping. After removing the old cast iron sewer pipe and replacing it with new ABS pipe, we advised the homeowner NOT to allow the ivy to grow back over the new pipe, because the ivy roots are highly intrusive and difficult to keep under control.  We researched various ground cover alternative to the ivy, and found some to recommend that have very shallow roots and would be much less likely to damage the pipes in the future.

Examples of Groundcovers with Shallow Roots

While plants like ivy, bamboo and trees can have aggressive root systems and are not recommended around sewer pipes, certain kinds of wildflowers, succulents like ice plant, and ornamental grasses are good alternatives in these areas. Some of these plants are actually beneficial because they help stabilize the soil and make it less likely for underground pipe movement. And since ice plant roots are shallow, they actually act as kind of a living mulch, effectively cooling the roots of surrounding plants while not competing for their water supply and nutrient diet. 

San Diego County is in the USDA Hardiness zones 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a and 10b. Use this information when you visit your local nursery, making sure to mention what kind of soil and whether or not the pipes are on a hill or flat ground. Some trees you definitely DON’T want to plant near sewer pipes include:  maples, ash, sycamore, various kinds of oak, willows, basswood,  figs, large eucalyptus and beeches.

For more information about sewer pipe repair or replacement in San Diego, contact Carini Heating, Air and Plumbing, at 619-843-0997; or visit www.cariniair.com.

Ice plant is a good option for planting near underground pipes in San Diego
Bamboo has deep and aggressive root systems that should not be planted near pipes
Imagine what ivy roots will do to your plumbing! Don’t plant ivy near underground pipes