Tree roots can find the smallest of crevices in the sewer line and work their way inside. Some people pour salt into their sewer lines, but this not only kills the tree roots, it will also kill the tree. You can hire a professional plumber to snake the line, this is only a temporary solution. You can easily do the job yourself by using copper sulfate in one of two ways. You can apply it to the soil or dump it down the toilet drain. You will only be forcing the tree roots to grow in another area. Your sewer line will be clear, and the trees will still live.

tree roots
man making phone call

Find your sewer line. You will need to know where the line is and how deep it is beneath the ground. If you don’t know where it is, then contact the city office. They will have the information you need. Call the electric, cable and gas company to make sure that none of their lines is in that area.

chalk line in grass

Place a flag where your line connects to the city line and where it comes out of your house. You can use chalk to mark a straight line so you will know exactly where the pipe is located.

earth augers

Rent an earth auger and drill a 2.5-inch-diameter hole in the ground, stopping 24 to 30 inches above the sewer line.

PVC pipe

Cut a 1.5 PVC pipe the same length as the hole you just drilled. Glue a female adapter onto one end of the 1.5 pipe and insert the other end into the hole you just dug. The pipe should fit flush with the ground. If it doesn’t, you will have to remove the pipe and cut it to the right length.

copper sulfate

Pour 4 pounds of copper sulfate into the pipe. Buy small- to medium-sized copper sulfate.

man testing hose water temperature

Pour 5 gallons of hot water down the pipe to help dissolve the copper sulfate into the ground.

Step 7

Reapply the copper sulfate every four months to keep tree roots away. This is not a fast solution. It can take a month or more before the tree roots leave the area.


Pour ½ cup of copper sulfate into the toilet. Buy medium-sized copper sulfate in a 2-pound box. Do not pour it down any other drain other than the toilet because copper sulfate can eat through metal pipes.

flushing a toilet

Flush the toilet.

toilet in bathroom

Pour another 1/2 cup of copper sulfate into the toilet and then flush again. Keep repeating this method until you have used all but a half cup from a 2-pound box.

copper sulfate sitting overnight in toilet

Take the last half cup of copper sulfate and pour it into the toilet bowl. Do not flush. Leave it in the bowl overnight. Flush the toilet in the morning.

Step 12

Reapply copper sulfate every six months.