Lilac: Root Growth? (Somewhat Offtopic)

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  #1  
Old 07-17-03, 11:46 AM
magister
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Lilac: Root Growth? (Somewhat Offtopic)

Greetings and I should warn you upfront; I'm really just living-up to the phrase that I keep under my forum id and of course, I would like to thank you in advance for helping me think through this problem...

In my yard, I have a lilac bush which is about 8' or 9' tall;

Back when I bought the house last fall, there were massive sewer problems and though it took me a while to work through them; I eventually snaked-out a long (+20' ?), 1" to 2" root that was wrapped in a network of smaller roots that were so thick, it looked as if it was wrapped in wires.

At the time, I was under the impression that the root came from an elm, primarily based on how far out it felt; But now, I'm in the beginning stages of having another round of sewer problems and since pulling the root, I've discovered another cleanout in my yard and because the problem is beyond this point; If this new problem can be attributed to roots, the lilac is the only possible culprit.

Now, there could be other causes for this new problem and the water/sewer department failed to mark my lines, back when I requested; So, I can't swear that the line goes beneath the lilac and doesn't angle around it towards the manholes which are just east of my property and since the builder of the house did own all of the surrounding land, this could be a possibility; But, if you go in straight line from the cleanout to the street, the line could easily pass almost directly under the trunk and about 4' below the surface.

As I said; There are a couple of other possible causes for my problem and each would demand different treatments; Of course, if I rented another snake, I would know in just a few minutes whether or not I have roots; But, the rental seems like kind of an expensive place to start, especially considering that it would take me longer to go get the thing, than I would actually use it.

Any expert opinions about whether or not the lilac is to blame? I described the root I pulled; Does it sound like a lilac or an elm? Would an 8'-9' lilac produce a root that not only would go down 4', but would also grow fast enough in 8-10 months for it to cause problems in a 4" pipe? In a desert environment? Thus far, the only info I have about the roots of a lilac is from this <A HREF="http://forum.doityourself.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=103675">thread</A> and of course; I'm looking for informed opinions and not a guarantee.

Thanks in Advance;
R
 

Last edited by magister; 07-17-03 at 12:12 PM.
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  #2  
Old 07-17-03, 01:46 PM
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As far as the size of the root is concerned, I suspect that anything would wax large if it managed to make it to a sewer line. Especially in the desert.

My vote is for the elm. A quasi-expert opinion.
 
  #3  
Old 07-17-03, 02:37 PM
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Tree roots in waste pipe

Hi Magister

You asked: Any expert opinions about whether or not the lilac is to blame? I described the root I pulled; Does it sound like a lilac or an elm? Would an 8'-9' lilac produce a root that not only would go down 4', but would also grow fast enough in 8-10 months for it to cause problems in a 4" pipe? In a desert environment? Thus far, the only info I have about the roots of a lilac is from this thread and of course; I'm looking for informed opinions and not a guarantee.

I have a Tshirt of a tree showing the top & root system. If you look carefuly it's an old man with a beard. However it shows a truth & that is that the root system looks and is as big and deep as the tree. So 4' for that lilac root in a dry environment is shallow. The tap root can go down double or deeper than that just to reach water.

We feed a tree at the drip line because that is where the feeder roots grow out to. The lilac send out roots that then send up shoots well away from the main bush. The Tap root is often as deep as the tree is tall or more.

I would get them to come out and mark the line first. Unless the root bark or inside has a unique color, one root looks like another.

What are your plans if it is the Lilac is the culpruit? Just cutting it off will lead to more bushes, it would have to be pulled. That may rip the pipe into pieces in the process.

The modern glue together CPVC pipes we have today would have to be broken, for the roots to get in to the pipe. That alone is not good, as you have septic waste, leaching out & around the yard.

I believe in the long run you may have to replace the old pipe. Any idea how old the pipe is? Our House was built in 1951 & used an out house back then. Sometime between then and now the septic system was put in using the old soil pipe.

To make a long story short since our soil won't perk, we have no choice but to install a Composting Toilet.

A new pipe run in the right area would be a lot less expensieve than trying to keep roots out of an old broken pipe.

You can find guys with a Back hoe to dig it up for $25.00 per hour. You can then remove the Lilac & install a new pipe at the same time.

Understand I'm not there so the only thing I know is, the pipe is broken now & won't get any better over time.
 
  #4  
Old 07-18-03, 08:29 AM
magister
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One of my typical over-reactions?

Thanks guys; It took some time and quite a bit of effort, but I was able to get the line re-cleared last evening and to my surprise, the fellows from the sewer department actually showed-up this morning and volunteered that they had a camera which they could run-through at no charge and it would tell me whether the lilac is the problem, or if it is something else.

Obviously, there's some kind of problem in the last length of pipe and because it is cast iron, roots could easily be the source. But, there's also a question about a pole which has fallen over sometime in the last 50+ years and instead of pulling it out, they simply cut it off above ground. Theoretically, or at least in my mind; The tipping of the pole could've shifted the pipe enough to compress it and punch a hole. I know there's a hole because this last fill took-out a colony of yard roaches, but as to whether or not it comes from the lilac; I guess we'll find out when and if, the fellows come back to video the line.

Of course, being cheap as dirt; I'm glad I was able to clear the line with just effort and a lot of water moving through my high-pressure, designated sewer-clearing hose. My initial instinct was to try some of the root-burning stuff, but they were out the last time I went to Abq and it's comparatively expensive, locally. Plus, if the problem is coming from the pole, then the root-killer would do no good and I'd be better served by trying some enzyme-based main line cleaner which is why I was seeking reassurance. After all, the original root "felt" like it came from the elm, but at that time, the mower hadn't discovered this last cleanout (there are a total of 5, but it took a while to discover the one that gave me access to the root which I finally got out and it wasn't until spring, before the mower discovered this last).

Originally, back when we bought the place, my wife wanted to move the lilac because she had other plans for that corner; But then, we got a single bloom this spring and she identified the plant, plus I convinced her that the payoff from moving such a large bush wouldn't be worth the effort. Hopefully, when I get around to replacing the cast iron with plastic, I'll be able to lay the pipe in pretty much the same channel as the cast iron, so that I can do minimal damage to the lilac's root system.

And in an effort to bringing this thread back around to being ontopic; We've got a lilac that's 8' to 9' tall; It had a single bloom this spring and there are no obvious problems with the leaves or plant; It has been getting regular watering since the spring, initially it would get hit with the hose but since that time, I've buried a soaker under some medium-sized bark. Other than a good pruning and cutting-off the shoots or "volunteers"; We've done nothing else to the bush. Any tips or advice, you'd like to suggest? I'm all ears?

Thanks Again;
R
 
  #5  
Old 07-18-03, 09:43 AM
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Smile Feeding the Lilac

magister said:
Other than a good pruning and cutting-off the shoots or "volunteers"; We've done nothing else to the bush.

Take a bulb digger & make a hole 3 feet out from the stem every 1 foot, then put 1 cup of 5-10-15 in each hole & cover.

Do this ever year in late Spring & she should start to look real nice in a couple of years.
 
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Old 07-18-03, 10:11 AM
magister
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Cool, thanks and will do;

But, if you don't mind; Since, it is already midsummer should I wait until next spring to apply the "medicine"? Or, would I get any benefit from applying the first dose, now? According to the paper, monsoon season is already a couple of weeks past due and there is no rain in sight; Supposedly, it is going to rain someday but it hasn't occurred yet, so if that has any bearing on the response...

Average annual precipt is just over 9" with more than half of that coming during the summer monsoon season; In June, we supposedly average around 1&frac12;", but this June only produced .11". And for the most part, the low and high temps have been +-80&deg; and +-100&deg;, respectively. I don't know if these numbers matter, but I thought I would throw them out there, nonetheless.

Thanks Again;
R
 
  #7  
Old 07-18-03, 03:25 PM
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When to fertlize Shrubs & Trees

You noticed that I said late Spring Well that was because if you feed too soon many plants could pop out right in the frost & freeze.

So that's not written in stone, that you can't feed in summer. I would go ahead now since the plant has not been fed for some time.

Feeding in Fall is kind of a waste as the plant is on it's way to go dormant for Winter. The future as you feed in late Spring will allow the plant to feed all Summer.

I like this Rain we have been getting here in Western NC but I'm a slow typer & a Storm is coming again. Our PCs have been off 2 times already today & so it's becoming a ritual. Get out of windows & unplug APCs beep beep beep kill the DSL line.

Bye I gotta go it's about to hit again Bye
 
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