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Think before you plant

Trees and shrubs planted too close to sewer pipes cause problems, may cause blockages requiring removal or replacement of broken pipes. If planting trees or shrubs near your house, avoid the following intrusive species:

  • African Tulip
  • Black Bean
  • Bottlebrush
  • Brush Box
  • Bunya Pine, Hoop Pine, Norfolk Pine
  • Camphor Laurel
  • Cypress
  • Fig
  • Hackberry
  • Jacaranda
  • Mango
  • Oak
  • Poinciana
  • Poplar
  • Rubber Oak, She Oak, Silky Oak
  • Umbrella Tree
  • Willow.

Sewer and Water Pipeline Plantings in Bushland Reserves


In areas where plantings other than lawns or grass are appropriate (horticultural plantings, bushland, restoration sites etc.), a protocol is required to minimise the risk of root invasion into sewer lines. To allow machinery access (should a fault in a sewer develop), a 6 metre easement through currently unplanted bush regenerated areas is required. Although these areas can be planted, it is understood that at some time in the future, these easements may be accessed for sewer maintenance and that could lead to considerable disturbance to plantings.

Plantings in 0-6m zone

These can include the following life-forms (for a full list of species consult the excel spreadsheet):

- Small shrubs, e.g. Broad-leaf Hopbush, Breynia etc.

- Short-lived medium shrubs, e.g. Coast Wattle, Native Rosella

- Graminoids: Lomandras, grasses, Gahnias, Cordyline, etc.

- Small coppicing trees that will re-sprout following disturbance: principally Brush Kurrajong

  • Plantings in 6-10m zone: any grass-like plants or herbs and small and medium trees only
  • Plantings in 10-30m zone: any grass-like plants or herbs and medium to large trees only
  • Plantings in 30m+ zone: any species including very large trees.

Periodic maintenance

Periodic weeding (every 5 years) near sewers (inside 30m zones) may be necessary to remove naturally regenerating trees not permissible in that zone, (e.g. large trees in the small tree zone). This should ensure the integrity of the sewer.


The Fig Tree Planting Protocol applies to sewer lines (measured from the centre of the easement to each side of the pipe (see Figure 1 below):

  • Sandpaper Fig: 5m
  • Watery Fig: 10m
  • Moreton Bay Fig: >30m
  • Small-leaved Fig: 30m
  • Rusty Fig: 10m
  • Deciduous Fig: 20m
  • Strangler Fig: >30m

Figure 1. Diagram of sewer easement plantings and plant groupings that apply

Sewer Easement Plantings

Any further queries should be directed to Council's Ecologist (02) 6581 8111 or email

This page was last updated on: 25 September 2020