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Choice is between plantings and sewers

For 16 years our condominium apartments have had plumbing problems due to the roots of trees and bushes which grow through the sewer pipes and cause untold annoyance. A plumber suggested we pour a root-killer solution into the toilets to destroy the roots. It will probably destroy the vegetation as well. He says that otherwise we shall have to entirely remove the bushes and trees, which the condominium owners resist. The claim is that it would depreciate the property values. Can you solve this problem for us? A condominium director

It appears to me that you may all have to make a choice as to which is more important: (1) uninterrupted free-flowing sewer or (2) the flora. Short of that choice, the alternative is to replace the old sewer mains which again could become rootbound in the years ahead.

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Some say that copper wire installed inside the sewer line will prevent roots from entering the pipes.

No doubt a professional router already has been employed to clean out the roots, albeit such cleaning will only open the lines temporarily.

If you remove the offending trees and shrubs, you could replace them with lawns, shallow-rooted shrubs and trees, or even wood boxes or clay pots with plants. Aboveground masonry planters are also feasible and attractive.

Which is worse: property depreciation from some of the removed flora or more years of peridically stopped-up plumbing?

First, set your priorities. Then proceed through majority action with what is nearest right, all things considered.

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