Safe to plant JBP above Main Water Supply Line Pipe?

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Shohin
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I’ve had these 2 small niwaki JBPs since Dec 2018.
They were originally bought in 15gal pots, and are 4-5’ tall.
I re-potted them into large 28” wide oak wine barrels in Feb 2019; so, they’ve been in them for almost 2 years now.

I am not sure it the roots have filled up the entire barrel yet. So, the rootball may still be smaller than the large barrel/pot. Irdk. Hoping the rootballs are a little smaller though, so it’s easier to dig and plant.

Anyways, I’ve originally always been wanting to plant them into the ground (as niwaki).
I actually attempted to do this in Jan 2019; but I saw the main water supply pipe to the house, as I was digging the hole. Hence, why I put them into wine barrels instead; as I was unsure if it was safe to plant it above the main water supply pipe/line.

As you can see, the location is in a perfect area for a nice specimen tree/niwaki. But, the main water pipe is 20” right below in the middle (BLUE dotted line).

The main question is:
Is it safe and okay to plant a JBP above this water line??
Maybe with some kinda barrier to deflect the roots away? (I have several spare 1x1’ and also 2x2’ granite tiles)


I walked around the neighborhood to see other plant placements, and I def see that some neighbors (not all though), have pigmy date palms and large 20-30’ fan palms right above their main water supply line.
Also, my old, tall, upright eugenia (with maybe an 8” trunk and 30yo… it’s been there since the house was built) is also right above the main water supply line (RED arrow).


I did some Googling, and read about some trees to Avoid and also ones that are Suitable for planting over or close-to water pipes.
But, I couldn’t find anything for JBP, or even San Jose Juniper (I have an old potted SJ juniper too, and 11 cuttings/air-layers from it).

Here’s what I found:

Avoid:
Trees with aggressive roots and fast-growing trees:
Silver maple, poplars, rubber trees, ashes, Modesto ash, sycamore, oaks, willows, basswood, tuliptree, elms, birches, mulberry, figs, eucalyptus, beeches, black walnut, magnolia, holly shrubs, ivy.

Suitable:
Small deciduous trees, slow growing, non-aggressive or shallow roots:
Japanese maple, ilex, carolina buckthorn, quince, wintersweet, acoma crape myrtle, crabapple, hoptree, stewartia, weeping higan, Jolivette cherry, eastern redbud, dwarf dogwood, ginko

Suitable:
Small, slow growing evergreen, under 20’ max height:
Boxwood tree, Hurd manzanita, tea-oil, yennan camelia, Mediterranean fan palm, akupuka, variegatum Japanese privet, some osmanthus, photinia, cabbage palm, Awabuki sweet viburnum, weeping blue atlas cedar, Chinese & Japanese plum yews, fernspray cypress, slender hinoki cypress.


No mention of Japanese Black Pine though from the “Suitable” lists I am researching.


Is planting a JBP safe there?

What about a SJ Juniper as a possible alternative? (I really want a JBP there though!)


Any help greatly appreciated!
 

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penumbra

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If the pipes are in good shape you should have no problem. However, if the pipe ever needs to be dug up, you lose the tree. Technically, that blue line represents a utility right of way.
 

Shibui

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If the trees are kept pruned the roots will not get too big so should not be a problem.
Roots cause problems in a couple of ways:
1. Roots get into joints in drainage pipes and block them. This only applies to drainage and stormwater and was much worse in the days of ceramic pipes. Now most drains are PVC with fewer joints for roots to get into. Roots cannot penetrate supply pipes because they are under pressure and properly sealed.
2. Roots get gradually thicker. Where roots grow on both sides of a pipe they gradually crush the pipe and restrict flow, possibly cracking the pipe and causing leaks. This is worse where supply pipes are Poly. Copper and PVC are harder for the roots to crush.

Not sure of the rules in Cal. Here the pipes in the street are maintained by the authority and have easement but pipes on private property are the responsibility of the landowner so I think this pipe would be the householder's responsibility in the unlikely event anything should go wrong. Trees do not need to be removed for pipe replacement. Directional boring is becoming more common and services can be installed right under trees and other infrastructure. The decision whether to trench or bore just comes down to dollars and whether the tree is worth the extra cost of boring under if it ever comes to replacement.

Tiles are probably not going to make much difference. Roots will grow round the times and grow right through the soil below. Any barrier will be a temporary measure at best but if it makes you feel better put them in.

Don't worry about how large the root ball is when transplanting. Some roots can be pruned without causing any problems for the trees.
 

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Trees do not need to be removed for pipe replacement. Directional boring is becoming more common and services can be installed right under trees and other infrastructure. The decision whether to trench or bore just comes down to dollars and whether the tree is worth the extra cost of boring under if it ever comes to replacement.

Thanks for the detailed reply!

Ah, I’ve never heard of “boring” used for main supply pipes for a house! Never knew that was even possible!

As for the traditional way (digging/trenching), Jim from Horttube YT channel told me that usually, for main water supply pipe replacement, they’d run a completely new/different path for the new pipe (from the street/sidewalk to the house), instead of digging up the old pipe and instead of using the exact same path of the old pipe (especially if trying to avoid digging up existing trees). Idk if this is true or commonly done.
 

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Boring is becoming very common for water service lines into homes. And as you’ve already found out a contractor can always re-route the the service line to a pond anything that’s in the way.
 

penumbra

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The method of boring is great when you can do it. It generally cannot be done in my area because there is too much rock. Also, when I was the staff horticulturist for a major Northern VA developer, there were many times when we had to cancel attempts to do so in Fairfax County and surrounds. We were normally only successful when going under sidewalks or other very short runs. Re routing was a much more successful endeavor.
Where it can be done, its great, but it can't be done everywhere. Things could have changed in the last 15 years or so, but this has been my experience.
 

Firstflush

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Howdy neighbor, I’m in OC too. That Calpoly tree guide is the shizz. Search for anything.
Subsurface, you could build a bridge so the roots go around/over the pipe, like people who use plates or tiles to flare JM nebari.
 

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Hey neighb!

I searched for San Jose juniper on the Calpoly site...no info on it there; but I'm sure it'd be a lot less damaging than a JBP, since it's only a small shrub. (but, then again, I really don't wanna resort to planting an SJ juniper there instead... really want the nicer JBP there).

Yeah... was thinking of tiles (I have plenty).
But, I also thought it might be an extra pain for whoever tries to trench/dig/repair for the pipe in the future, lol... Imagine running into a buried granite tile while digging through already dense clay soil, lol... that'd def be a pia.
 

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Interesting... the Eugenia/Brush Cherry is also listed as "Moderate damage potential."
And, it's also listed at 25-40' in height (JBP is 25-30').
It does grow a lot and I have to trim it +6x per year to keep it in shape/check.


I have one directly above the main water supply line (1st picture, on the right edge of pic, Red arrows). +30 years old.
I also see the Eugenia at pretty much every other house around the neighborhood too (used as hedges), also commonly above their main water lines too.
 

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So, anyone else have advice if I should plant it there? Yay or nay?

I prune it every year (de-candle and also fall-winter momiage/old needle removal and bifurcation reduction)... and I also plan to keep it the same height; if not, maybe just one extra level/pad/whorl taller.
 

JoshLaRue

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A few years ago, I had the joy of an old elm tree that been allowed to grow over 4" green sewer pipe for irrigation get crushed by the tree's roots. My neighbors weren't to happy with the water getting turned off for a few days. It's doubtful your tree will get big enough to destroy the pipe. But, if it were me I wouldn't plant it there. Just for the fact, that if the line ever needed work or replacement. The tree will get torn out, the utility guys aren't going to be gentle with your tree.
 

penumbra

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A few years ago, I had the joy of an old elm tree that been allowed to grow over 4" green sewer pipe for irrigation get crushed by the tree's roots. My neighbors weren't to happy with the water getting turned off for a few days. It's doubtful your tree will get big enough to destroy the pipe. But, if it were me I wouldn't plant it there. Just for the fact, that if the line ever needed work or replacement. The tree will get torn out, the utility guys aren't going to be gentle with your tree.
Totally agree with this. Even though sewer line is thinner wall because it is not under pressure, and regardless of the fact that elm roots are much more aggressive, is it worth the risk?
 

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Maybe I'll just leave that middle JBP in the wine-barrel then, lol. (and just plant the other one, next to the Rubicon/neighbor (no utility lines there).

I dread the idea of re-potting it though - gonna be a major pia, as it's heavy and big.

Any idea of re-potting frequency for a 28" half-wine-barrel? I assume maybe every 5-6 years?
 

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