Canadian Hemlock root system

naalAugust 11, 2009

Hi all -

My elderly father has two beautiful Canadian hemlocks on both ends of his house, within 5 feet of the exterior. They are approximately 12 years old.

He's thinking of removing them because of concerns that the root systems are invading the water/sewer lines. He has no proof that this is happening, but it's more for preventative measures.

Is this conifer known to cause problems? My knowledge is that they are rather shallow rooted, but hey, I'm no expert!

Thanks in advance to your help!

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beng(z6 western MD)

They are typically shallow rooted. IMO, hemlock would be less likely to affect deep water lines than most other species.

The location & depth of any piping in relation to the trees would be of interest of course.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 5:20PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

If roots are getting into pipes the problem is the condition of the pipes.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 5:23PM
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Hemlocks I've seen in the forest that have been tipped over by the wind have had root systems flat as a pancake.

I suppose someone will now point out that the deep-rooted ones don't windthrow! But, I'm in agreement with the above comments........not likely to cause a problem.

Bboy alludes to old pipes. While not an inexpensive proposition, new water and sewer laterals are wonderful things.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 8:42PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Like many trees, it depends on how well they are watered or how ample the rainfall. Ample water results in shallower roots. How deep are these waterlines in your area?


    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 10:18PM
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Thanks all for responding. My father lives North of Pittsburgh, where they all ways seem to get plenty of water. The house was built around 1950 and sewer lines were put in during the 70s (it had a septic tank prior to that). He doesn't know how deep the lines are.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 7:46AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

boy you have this backwards... lol

if your father wants them removed.. remove them for him ...

and dont call him 'elderly' anymore... he is a vibrant man in the prime of his life ... and if he wants them gone.. so be it ...

what's he supposed to do.. sit there and worry about them for the rest of his life???? please ... give him the peace of mind he is searching for..

good luck


    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 7:58AM
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Yes, my father is pushing 90 and is in the prime of his life! He's still trying to figure out what he wants to do when he grows up. :-)

I get your point, Ken, about peace of mind. Maybe I can plant hostas in the place where he removes the hemlocks. (I'm always looking for a way to expand my hosta collection, even if it's 300 miles away form VA.)

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 10:23AM
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I wonder how this turned out as I have been digging up two trees that are very old and have these huge roots under the ball of the tree that are going deep into the ground.It is amazing to me.. and I am not sure I can get them all out.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 11:24AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

why do you need to get them out, duck????

trust me.. NO ONE.. digs up all the roots ... there is simply no good reason to do it..

how about we move this to a new post ... and you give us more facts.. presuming you want an answer ...


    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 4:33PM
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