Columnar Aspen, Invasive Roots?

by Dave
(Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)

Columnar Aspen

Columnar Aspen

Hi, I have these trees planted next to my driveway, and have been told their roots can damage utility lines and sidewalks, is this true? Should I be concerned or consider moving them? I've included pictures of the trees.

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Jul 25, 2020
Related to Willows
by: Jacki Cammidge, Certified Horticulturist

They are related to willows, and we all know the warnings from those.

This type of tree (think about where you see them growing naturally, on the side of a river bank) love water. They'll seek it out via cracked water pipes, broken clay sewer pipes, and drain tiles. There have been occasions where they'll completely fill the pipes with the roots, choking it off. This is where Roto Rooter and similar companies make their living, by sending the machine down to follow the pipe and cut off all the roots.

As to damaging other kinds of utilities, like plastic lines, I doubt if that will be a problem. They may crack sidewalks if they get big enough, but it will take literally years for that to happen.

It would be surprising if the landscaper planted them directly over top of any kind of utility - maybe check that they didn't.

These look like they're on the side of an concrete driveway, which could hold them in check for a while. I would leave them for now, such a shame to yank out beautiful trees when they're not causing any harm. When they get to be fifty feet tall, revisit it, and see if they're starting to buckle the concrete. Then take them out. After planting something less aggressive to replace them.

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