My wife and I bought a couple Weeping Willows for our back yard a
couple years ago. This year, we had a pool built in the back as well.
The pool isn't just done yet, but, a friend informed me that Weeping
Willows' roots extend very far and can tear up pipes and such. How
true is this? Do they only stretch out a certain distance? Right now
they are on the very back of my yard, it's about a 10-15ft rise. On
the other side of the hill there's a sort of dip where it stays wet
for long periods after it rains. I guess it was the builders' attempt
in making a drainage path. These Willows are still young but they're
growing fast and are so beautiful, we really don't want to get rid of
How do they know there's water inside the pipes, or beyond the concrete?
Wouldn't the roots grow just as much in the other direction - maybe even
more if there was no resistance? What attracts them to the pool and
pipes? Smell? Visuals survalence from the branches, passed to the roots?
Can you fool them to think there's water in the oposite direction?
I can't answer that question, but I can pose a similar one, which backs up
the question from the Bud Light ads from years ago, "Why ask why?"
I used to plant (and will plant again) some pole beans. I used 8 ft high 4x4
posts with a crucifix-like bar across the top of each. Strings ran from
stakes in the ground to the cross bar at the top, to keep the plants
somewhat separated and allow more even light penetration. I installed two of
these posts about 8 feet apart (opposite corners of the garden). When the
beans reached the top and wanted to go further, they would begin growing
toward the opposite poles, actually sending their branches horizontally. It
was as if they figured out where their next best support option was. There
were NEVER any branches headed anywhere EXCEPT for the opposite pole, and
there was no string between the poles. Very strange.
If it happens again next season, I'll take some pictures and post them.
With time, excavated ground around pipes (and concrete tanks) will
settle, and wherever there are joins or connections, the slight
loosening or constriction allows tiny beads of water to seep out. Willow
roots seek moist soil. They will then insert a root finer than a hair
into the seeping place; as soon as the root finds a larger water supply
(in the pipe) it rapidly expands. Expanding willow roots can fracture
pipes and concrete, and then fill and block the pipes completely.
On TV I've seen time-lapse film of climbers "looking" for the nearest
available support. Speeded up, they look like snakes swaying to the
snakecharmer's pipe :-).
I disagree with the being attracted part (unless the pipes leak), but they
can definitely tear things up.
I had 2 willows (now, after a hellacious battle, 1). Both grew roots across
the surface of the lawn and under the sidewalk, lifting it up and cracking
it. Cracking a pipe would be easy work for willow roots.
The one that remains is a giant. It looks good from a distance, but close
up it's a mess. It's always dropping branches, and the roots are horrible
to mow around. It's getting the axe soon, in favor of some bamboo.
-- spud_demon -at- thundermaker.net
The above may not (yet) represent the opinions of my employer.
Spud is correct - unless there are obvious leaks or cracks in the concrete,
willow roots will not necessarily be attracted to or "invade" pipes or break
through a vertical wall of concrete, although they can and will lift
concrete slabs. And if you have leaks in the pool enough to attract the
roots of the willow, you have more serious problems than the trees will
OTOH, they are aggressive, surface rooted and messy trees and subject to a
whole host of wind and insect and disease damage. Not a tree recommended for
a smaller sized garden (ie., your typical suburban lot) and not one to be
located in very close proximity to a pool if for nothing more than
maintaining the pool will be an enormous and constant chore.
pam - gardengal
Then be prepared for the possibility of them perforating the pool walls. Willow
roots are very aggressive and will cut through concrete and burst through pipes
and anything in their way. So, keep the trees if you aren't concerned about
your pool possibly being punctured. Even unite can be punctured.
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