Trees and shrubs are an important part of our built environment, however if they’re not carefully chosen they may cause problems below ground.

The roots of some trees and shrubs can damage sewer pipes and underground services. Trees and shrubs rely on their roots to find moisture and nutrients. Your property’s sewer pipes can be an attractive moisture source.

A small hairline fracture in a pipe is all a root needs to get in. Once inside the pipe the root can grow quickly, causing a reduction in flow and potentially a complete blockage. Often complete sections of pipe need to be replaced which can be expensive.

Homes over 15 years old are particularly at risk as they are less likely to have PVC sewerage pipes, which aren’t as prone to leakage and tree root damage.

Finding the right tree

To help you in choosing the most appropriate tree or shrub to plant at your property we have put together a list of some common options. This will give you an idea of plants average mature height range and recommended minimum planting distance from any sewer pipe.

Why not be waterwise as well? 

Waterwise trees, once established in improved soil, will need watering no more than once a week. Many of these trees will flourish over the long, hot summer months with only the bare minimum of water. Trees that are waterwise have been labelled in the below table. To learn more about the best waterwise plants for your garden visit our waterwise plant search.

Use these lists as a guide only

These lists are intended to be used as a guide to assist you in the planting of trees or shrubs on your property. Please take care when planting any trees and shrubs as you may be liable if there is any property damage as a result.

List of common small trees and shrubs and their recommended planting distance from sewer pipes.
Mature heigh range (metres) Waterwise status Common name  Botanical name  Suggested minimum distance from any sewer pipe (metres) 
3-5 - Apple Malus 2
4-5 - Apricot, Peach & Nectarine Prunus  6
4-5  - Avocado Persea 2
3-5 Yes Banksia Banksia species 4
3-4
Yes
Bell-fruited Mallee Eucalyptus preissiana
4
3-5 Yes
Coarse-leaved Mallee Eucalyptus grossa

4

3-5 -
Crab Apple Malus 2
5 Yes
Crepe Myrtle Lagerstroemia indica 4
4 Yes
Flinders Range Wattle Acacia iteaphylla 6
4-10 Yes
Forman's Mallee Eucalyptus formanii 4
3-4 Yes
Four-winged Mallee Eucalyptus tetraptera 2
4-6 Yes
Fox Tail Palm Wodyetia bifurcate 6
4 Yes
Frangipani Plumeria 2
3-4 Yes
Fuchsia Mallee Eucalyptus forrestiana 4
3-5 - Grapefruit, Lemon, Mandarin, Orange Citrus 4
4-5 - Guava (Pineapple) Feijoa sellowiana 2
3-4 -
Guava Psidium 2
4 -
Hibiscus Hibiscus sinensis 4
4-5 Yes
Judas Tree Cercis silaquastris 4
4-5 Yes
Kings Park Bottlebrush Callistemon 'Kings Park Special' 4
4-6 Yes
Kingsmill's Mallee Eucalyptus kingsmillii 4
3-4 Yes
Kruse's Mallee Eucalyptus kruseana 2
4-6 Yes
Little Ghost Gum Eucalyptus victrix 4
4-5 Yes
Loquat Eriobotrya 4
4-6 - Mango Mangifera 6
3-5 Yes
Melaleuca Small shrub forms 6
4 Yes
Mottlecah Eucalyptus macrocarpa 4
4-6 Yes
Mudgee Wattle Acacia spectabilis 4
5 Yes
Narrow leaved Red Mallee Eucalyptus foecunda 4
4-6 Yes
Olive Olea 6
4-5 - Ornamental Cherry, Peach, Plum Prunus 6
4-5 -
Pagoda Tree Sophora japonica 6
5 Yes
Pear-fruited Mallee Eucalyptus pyriformis 4
4-6 Yes
Pincushion Hakea Hakea laurina 2
4-5  - Plum Prunus 6
4-5  Yes Red-flowered Moort Eucalyptus nutans 4
4-10 Yes Ridge-fruited Mallee Eucalyptus angulosa 4
3-4 Yes Rose Mallee Eucalyptus rhodantha 4
3-5 Yes Scarlet Pear Gum Eucalyptus stoatei 4
3-5 Yes Spearwood Mallee Eucalyptus doratoxylon 4
3-4 Yes Tallerack

Eucalyptus x tetragona

2
3-5 Yes Tree Daphne, Pom Pom Tree Dais cotinifolia 2
4-6 - Triangle Palm Dypsis decaryi 6
4-5 - Umbrella Tree Schefflera actinophylla 20
4 Yes Webster's Mallee Eucalyptus websteriana 2
4-6 Yes Weeping Gum Eucalyptus sepulcralis 10
4-8 Yes Weeping Pittosporum Pittosporum phylliraeoides 6
5 Yes Willow Bottlebrush Callistemon salignus 4

List of common medium trees and shrubs and their recommended planting distance from sewer pipes.
Mature heigh range (metres) Waterwise status Common name Botanical name Suggested minimum distance from any sewer pipe (metres)
6-8 Yes African Red Alder, Butter-Knife Bush Cunonia capensis 6
6-9 - Almond Prunus 6
5-8 - Birch, Silver Birch Betula 4
8-10 Yes Black Locust, Pink Wisteria Tree Mop Top Robinia 20
8-10 Yes Black Wattle Acacia decurrens 10
8 Yes Blue Mallet Eucalyptus gardneri 6
10 Yes Blueberry Ash Elaeocarpus reticulatus 4
6-8 - Box Elder Acer negundo 6
6 Yes Burdet Gum Eucalyptus burdettiana 4
6 Yes Bushy Yate, Bald Island Marlock Eucalyptus conferruminata 4
8 - Butterfly Tree Bauhinia 4
6 Yes Caesia Eucalyptus caesia 6
10 Yes Cape Chestnut Calodendron capense 6
8-10 Yes Cape Lilac, White Cedar Melia azedarach 20
5-8 Yes Carob Tree Ceratonia siliqua 6
6-8 - Castwellan Gold, Leighton's Green Cupressocyparis leylandii 6
10 Yes Chinese Pistacio Pistacio chinensis 6
8-10 Yes Chinese Tallow Triadica sebifera 2
7 Yes Coastal Moort Eucalyptus utilis 4
8 - Cocos Palm Syagrus romanzoffiana 6
6-12 Yes Common Sheoak Allocasuarina fraseriana 6
8 Yes Coolibah Eucalyptus microtheca 6
6 Yes Cootamundra Wattle Acacia baileyana 6
8 Yes Coral Gum Eucalyptus torquate 4
6 Yes Cottonwood Hibiscus tiliaceus 4
6-8 Yes Drooping Sheoak Allocasuarina verticillata 20
8 Yes Dwarf Sugar Gum Eucalyptus cladocalyx 'Nana' 6
7 Yes Evergreen Magnolia Magnolia grandiflora 6
5-8 - Flame Tree, Coral Tree Erythrina - All 20
6-8 Yes Golden Wattle Acacia pycnantha 4
7 Yes Gossamer Wattle, White Sallow Wattle Acacia floribunda 4
8 Yes Illyarrie, Red Capped Gum Eucalyptus erythrocorys 6
6-12 Yes Indian Bean Catalpa bigonioides 6
6-8 Yes Irish Strawberry Tree Arbutus unnedo 6
5-8 - Jelly Palm Butia capitata 6
5-10 - Kanooka, Water Gum Tristaniopsis laurina 6
10 Yes Kurrajongs Brachychiton 6
8-10 Yes Lemon-flowered Gum Eucalyptus woodwardii 6
6-8 Yes Macadamia Macadamia 6
5-10 Yes Melaleuca Tree & large shrub forms 10
5-10 Yes Mulberry Morus 6
6-9 Yes Native Daphne Pittosporum undulatum 6
8-15 Yes Native Frangipani Hymenosporum flavum 4
10 Yes Norfolk Island Hibiscus Lagunaria patersonii 10
8-10 - Oaks Quercus 20
6-9 Yes Ornamental Pears Pyrus 6
6-12 Yes Pecan Carya 6
5-8 Yes Pencil Pine, Golden Pencil Pine Cupressus sempervirens 'Stricta' 2
9-15 Yes Pepper Corn Tree Schinus molle 20
5-8 Yes Photinia Photinia serrulata 6
10 Yes Pink-flowered Yellow Gum Eucalyptus leucoxylon 'Rosea' 6
5-8 - Poinciana Delonix regia 6
6-8 Yes Port Lincoln Gum Eucalyptus lansdowneana 6
8-10 Yes Powton, Princess Tree Paulownia 20
9-12 Yes Queensland Fire Wheel Tree Stenocarpus sinuatus 4
6 Yes Queensland Silver Wattle Acacia Podalyriifolia 6
9 Yes Red Flowered Gum Corymbia (Eucalyptus) ficifolia 6
6 Yes Red-flowered Mallee Eucalyptus erythronema 4
7 Yes River Yate, Long-flowered Marlock Eucalyptus macrandra 4
6-8 Yes Rottnest Pine Callitris preisii 6
6-8 Yes Round-leaved Snow or Spinning Gum Eucalyptus perriniana 6
6 Yes Silver Princess

Eucalyptus caesia subsp. magna

4
8-10 Yes Silver-topped Gimlet Eucalyptus Campaspe 6
7 Yes Southern Cross Silver Mallee Eucalyptus cruces 4
6-8 Yes Steedman's Gum Eucalyptus steedmanii 6
8 Yes Strickland Gum Eucalyptus stricklandii 6
8 Yes Swamp Mallet Eucalyptus spathulata 4
6-8 Yes Sydney Golden Wattle Acacia longifolia 20
5-8 Yes Torwood Eucalyptus 'Torwood' 6
6 Yes Tree Strelizia Strelitzia Nicolai 4
8 Yes Weeping Bottlebrush Castillemon viminalis 6
6-9 - Weeping Lilly Pilly Waterhousia floribunda 6

List of common Large trees and shrubs and their recommended planting distance from sewer pipes.
Mature height range (metres) Waterwise status Common name Botanical name Suggested minimum distance from any sewer pipe (metres)
12-18 Yes AfricanTulip Spathodea campanulata 10
15 Yes Alexander & Bangalow Palms Archontophoenix 6
10-12 - Arizona Cypress Cupressus arizonica 6
12-18 - Atlas cedar Cedrus atlantica 6
12-18 - Bhutan Cypress Cupressus torulosa 6
10-15 - Box Tree, Queensland Box, Tristania Lophostemon confertus 6
10-15 Yes Canary Island Date Palm Phoenix canariensis 20
20 Yes Cedar Wattle Acacia elata 10
10-12 - Chinese Elm Ulmus parvifolia 6
10-15 Yes Claret Ash Fraxinus oxycarpa 'Raywood' 20
10-12 Yes Cotton Palm Washintonia filifera 6
10-12 Yes Cotton Palm Washintonia robusta 6
15-25 - Cut-leaf Plane Tree Platanus orientalis 10
25-30 - Deodar Cedar Cedrus deodara 20
12-18 Yes Evergreen Ash Fraxinus griffithii 10
10-12 Yes Fiddlewood Citharexylum spinosum 6
15 Yes Gimlet Eucalyptus salubris 6
15-25 - Ginkgo, Maidenhair Tree Ginkgo biloba 6
12-18 - Golden Shower Cassia fistula 6
15-25 Yes Honey Locust, Frisia Gleditsia 10
25 Yes Illawarra Plum Podocarpus elatus 10
10-12 Yes Jacaranda Jacaranda mimosifolia 6
10-15 Yes Kaffir Plum Harpephyllum caffrum 20
12 - Leopard Tree Caesalpinia ferrea 6
10-12 Yes Lilly Pilly Acmena smithii 20
20 Yes Liquidambar Liquidambar styraciflua 20
10-15 Yes London Plane Platanus x acerifolia 10
15-20 Yes Marri, Pink Marri Carymbia (Eucalyptus) calphylla 20

20-30

- Monterey Cypress Cupressus macrocarpa 6
10-12 Yes Moreton Bay Chestnut Castonospermum 8
15 Yes Narrow-leaved Peppermint Eucalyptus nicholii 6
12 Yes New Zealand Xmas Tree Metrosideros tomentose 6
12 Yes Red-freckled Gum Eucalyptus land-poolei 6
20-30 Yes River Sheoak Casuarina cunninghamiana 20
10-12 Yes Rose Sheoak Allocasuarina torulosa 6
10-12 Yes Salt River Gum Eucalyptus sargentii 20
12-18 Yes Shingle Oak Casuarina equisetifolia 20
12-18 Yes Silky Oak Grevillea robusta 20
25 Yes Silver Wattle Acacia dealbata 10
25-30 - Smooth-barked Apple Gum Angophora costata 20
15-20 Yes Swamp Oak Casuarina obesa 10
10-15 - Swamp or Bald Cypress Taxodium distichum 20
20-30 Yes Tasmanian Blackwood Acacia melanoxylon 20
15-20 Yes Tipu Tree, Pride of Bolivia Tipuana tipu 6
15 Yes Tuckeroo Cupaniopsis anarcardioides 4
20 - Tulip Tree Liriodendrom tulipifera 6
14 Yes WA Peppermint Agonis flexuosa 6
10-12 Yes Wallangarra White Gum Eucalyptus scoparia 6

A list of trees that are not suggested for urban gardens.
Common Name Botanical name
Alder Alnus
Bay Tree Laurus nobilis
Camphor Laurel Cinnamomum camphora
Coastal Blackbutt, Prickly Bark Eucalyptus todtiana
Figs Ficus species
Flooded Gum Eucalyptus rudis
Japanese Pepper Tree Schinus terebinthifolius
Lemon-scented Gum Corymbia (Eucalyptus) citriodora
Mugga Ironbark Eucalyptus sideroxylon 'Rosea'
Norfolk Pine Araucaria heterophylla
Poplars Populus
River Gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis
Rose Gum Eucalyptus grandis
Salmon Gum Eucalyptus salmonophloia
Southern Blue Gum, Eurabbie Eucalyptus globulus
Southern Mahogany Eucalyptus botryoides
Spotted Gum Corymbia (Eucalyptus) maculate
Sugar Gum Eucalyptus cladocalyx
Swamp Mahogany Eucalyptus robusta
Tamarisk Tamarix aphylla
Tasmanian Blue Gum Eucalyptus globulus
Tuart Eucalyptus gomphocephala
Virgilia Virgilia
Willows Salix
Wollemi Pine Wollemia nobilis
Yellow Box Eucalyptus melliodora