How to Use Water Softener Salt to Dissolve Tree Roots

Written by tracy morris
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How to Use Water Softener Salt to Dissolve Tree Roots
Flushing salt down your toilet will help to kill the roots of plants that invade the pipes. (Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

When you landscape over a septic system drain field, most landscapers recommend shallow-rooted plants such as annual flowers or drought tolerant grasses. Trees with deep roots can grow down into gravel surrounding pipes and might invade cracks in the pipes, widen and break them. Water-loving trees, such as willows, even planted at a distance will send roots in the direction of the pipes and cause problems. If you have problem tree roots in your septic system, you can temporarily rescue your pipes by flushing them with salts from a water softener to dissolve the root hairs of invading roots.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Measuring cup
  • Rock salt

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Select salt that is used in a water softener to kill tree roots. Common salts used in water softeners include rock salt, solar salt or evaporated salt. Rock salt is available commercially from any grocery store.

  2. 2

    Measure 1 cup of rock salt using a measuring cup.

  3. 3

    Pour the salt into the toilet and flush.

  4. 4

    Measure and flush rock salt again every two weeks.

Tips and warnings

  • Another substance you can use to kill roots is copper sulphate.
  • Although flushing pipes with water softener will kill roots, it is a temporary solution. Eventually you will have to uproot problem trees to prevent the roots from invading.
  • Flushing salt into your septic system can upset the balance of the septic system and raise the pH of the soil in your drain field. This can make it difficult to grow grasses and shallow rooted plants in the area. Never use too many salts in your septic system.

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