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All trees can clog sewer lines, but some are `sewer friendly'

September 24, 2006|Gayle Pollard-Terry

Worried about which trees are more likely to damage your sewer line?

"All trees and shrubs can clog sewer lines, if the sewer lines already have leaks in them," said Frank McDonough, a botanical information consultant with the L.A. County Arboretum and Botanic Garden.

"The only thing you can do to minimize the possibility of damage is to make sure that the tree you plant is not listed as an invasive tree," he added. "They are less likely to damage a good sewer line."

Cal Poly Pomona maintains a database that homeowners can use as a guide in choosing less invasive types, at selectree.calpoly.edu/root_damage.html.

Nick Arhontes, director of the Regional Assets and Services Department for the Orange County Sanitation District, recommended planting "sewer-friendly" palm trees with shallow roots. The district also identified "better trees," such as crape myrtle and several types of Australian shrubs with limited availability in Southern California.

Some good choices more common to this region include Italian cypress, sweet olive, ginkgo and Virginia pine, says Kathy Musial, curator of Living Collections at the Huntington Botanical Gardens.

gayle.pollard-terry@latimes .com

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