Planting trees near a well cap -- need some guidance please

mrmichaeljmooreJuly 22, 2009

My wife would like to have a circular garden bed made to conceal the well cap....the well cap would be at the rear of the bed.

In addition to some shrubs and perrenials, she was hoping to have a tree planted in the middle of the bed. She was planning to do an evergreen, like a blue spruce or some other type of christmas tree.

But I am a little worried about planting near the well......roots, access for any potential repairs, etc.

especially since the christmas tree can get quite large over time.

Could the experts here please provide some guidance on planting a tree near a well? How close could we plant something without too much worry?

Pictures would be great if anyone has some too...



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Please don't, or you are asking for trouble!!

Stand under a tree and look up. A trees roots go as far as the drip line or the edge of the leaves. Roots will find their way into the least little crack or crevice, and they are looking for moisture so the first place they'd head for is the well. If disguising the well cap is her objective, build a box without a bottom and cover it with slate-- or whatever--tiles. Put it over the well and put a birdbath--statue--sculpture or pot with flowers on top. This gives you easy access to the well if needed, disguises the fact that it's there, and keeps roots out of the well

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 6:01PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Some trees are absolutely worse than others. For example, willows can send their roots something like 400 feet or more in search of water (obviously the people who planted the willows atop our sewer line didn't know this, so we have become rather good at routing out the sewer). Even within the conifer family there may be some variation. I would encourage you to ask for guidance in the Conifers forum, where people know their "Christmas" trees.

One way you could make this work is to plant your Christmas tree, but then use it every couple of years for Christmas. That is to say, cut it down. And if you ever move, cut the tree before putting the house on the market. I'm guessing that in any case your wife is visualizing a tree no more than ten years old as she contemplates the effect, so this should keep things looking just right.

I agree the smart thing is just not to do this. The problem is that sometimes, you just want or need a tree and that's the space where you want it.

You could also get a humungous container and put a tree in that. Again, the tree's life span will be limited, but your well should live much longer.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 12:30PM
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What kind of well is this? Cased or open bore-hole? Does it have a bentonite seal?

I have installed and sampled lots of wells in all kinds of environments and I have never seen a tree root or anything growing into a PVC or Stainless steel cased well.

Typically in the wells of my experience the nearest tree is about 10 feet away (the working area cleared for a drill rig to be backed up into).

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 8:42PM
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Isabella_ma --

Not sure about the answers to your questions. The well was there when I bought the house. I will have to pull my well report from my file and see if any of the info is there.

10 feet, huh? To be honest with you, you are in the minority so far. Most of what I have read (and posts I've put on other forums) tell me to avoid putting trees near the well. Some cite access to the well for maintenance for the reason. To me, that isnt that big of a deal. Where I plan to have the tree, there will be access to the well from 2-3 sides.
Others say, the roots could damage the well casing....because they are searching for water.

Man....I dont know what to do. I am gonna call my well company (the place who dug the well) and see what they say too....


    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 11:12AM
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Assuming you have a modern well installed, it most likely will be cased without any seams that plant roots can infiltrate. Typically, unless you live in a marsh the saturated water bearing zone the well is screened in will be many feet below the root zone of a typical tree.
The only way I would see tree roots damaging a casing would be by physical displacement by an extremely mature tree. The tree could also fall onto your well.
The other issue with trees is rig access to the wellhead and 20-30 feet boom clearance above the well-head for maintenance reasons.

The most issues I see with wells are wasps in the protective well casing or iron fouling. I don't have a septic system, but apparently, septics systems are readily prone to tree damage and clogging. But septic lines are near surface and are not seamless.

I also would be interested in seeing or hearing about any tree root damage to a cased well.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 8:15PM
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Isabella knows what she is talking about.

Has anyone experienced a problem with trees being too close to their municipal water service? It is essentially the same thing - a closed sealed pipe. The tree has no idea that there is water in the pipe and is not staying up at night trying to figure out how to destroy it.

Septic systems are a completely different matter as they are made to leach into the soil. They are opened to the surrounding soil and a water source to whatever is around them. Trees don't search out water, their roots grow more vigorously where they get water and not so much where they don't. It follows that they continue to grow toward the water source.

Older septic pipes are also vulnerable because they are fitted together rather than being solid since they run on gravity rather than pressure. Those fittings leak creating a water source and the root growth heads to the source and finally into the leaking joint.

A sealed water pipe from a well or municipality is not going to attract root growth.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 6:51AM
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I am gonna post some pictures tonight of the area I am looking to plant the tree.....that way we all can see the area we are talking about...

thanks for responding.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 12:03PM
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Here are pictures of the area of where we want to plant the tree.

As you can see we are on a corner lot. The corner is quite a busy street we were hoping an evergreen tree would provide a some screening and shade.
Like I said above our initial thought would be to plant the tree somewhere between the street signs and well cap....

The distance from the well cap to the middle street sign is about 25 feet.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 8:18PM
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From my well report, I have the following info:
The well is 245 feet deep.
Casing is 20 feet. Casing is 6" in diameter.
The well report also says:
Drive Shoe: Yes
Was Casing Grouted?: Yes
That's all I have as far as well construction. Hopefully it is helpful.

I spoke to my well driller. He said having a tree, like a spruce, 15 feet or so away, won't cause any problems. Maybe in 30-40 years...but not anytime soon. In fact, he has never seen tree roots interfere with a well pipe. Two caveats, he said: Don't plant on side where pipe goes to house from well. The other thing is to make sure they have access to well for maintenance, pump removal or to deepen the well.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 2:42PM
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