Roughly 2 years ago I posted this question: Need Sprinkler Cracked PVC Pipe Repair Suggestions

There was a lot of good suggestions, but now the issue has gotten much worse.

In the image below I'm going to attempt to paint a timeline in which we have attempted to fix our PVC piping breaking issues.

Mid-2017 (BREAK 1). We discovered a pipe broken near the corner of the wall. The way we fixed it was to cut the pipe and replace it. This solved the issue for 2 years.

Jun 2019-Week 1 (BREAK 2). There was a peanut sized crack on top of PVC pipe, in which our handy man decided to drill a hole bigger than the crack and place an attachment on top and create a new sprinkler head instead of cutting the pvc pipe. Because the communication cable ran along the bottom of the pipe (stupid). After that was fixed, we tested our system, and discovered another break. Ironically enough the handyman still managed to cut the communicate cable.

Jun 2019-Week 3 (BREAK 3). After fixing break 2, we noticed the pipe was also broken at Break 3. We fixed this issue, by cutting from break 3 to break 2 and installing a flexible hose and glued it. Again we re-tested our system and discovered a water flowing under all the soil near "break 4", flowing into the ditch seen around BREAK 2.

July 2019 - Week 1 (BREAK 4?). This is where I need people's advice. I don't know where break 4 is, and i'm not interested in looking, because that 50 foot tall tree won't stop growing, and will continue to cause problems.

The big problem is the area where this tree is located. As you can see in this hand drawn image. The first image (real) shows top part of this hand drawn diagram. The line in the middle separates the 2 areas, where the roots are above the ground and where the grass starts below the line. I'm assuming the PVC pipe runs all the way down (somehow) to the rest of the sprinkler heads (which are large black dots).

I need to rerun this PVC pipe in a different way from the water source seen on the upper left, that avoids the top tree all together. But how is the question. That ditch you see near break 2 took almost 2 full days to cut the tree trunks in order to finally see the pipe. When break 1 occurred in 2017, that also took a good 3 or 4 days to finally reveal the break.

Any suggestions?

  • I have 12 sprinklers valves and probably 1000 + ft of buried pipe , 20+ years old in the Piney woods; I can't put down a shovel anywhere without hitting roots . Never had a leak or break caused by roots. Shovels have caused a couple leaks. I think you have some other problem. May 2, 2021 at 17:47
  • It was the tree, not some other problem, I assure you. The solution to the problem we took was to dig up the soil along the bricks and cut the roots that came into that path. From the North Wall, Along the edge of the rounded brings on the left side down to mid way. Then a sharp right turn to the existing pipe along the east wall. Avoiding the tree's roots all together. We used 2 flexable PVC for the rounded corners as well as normal pipe. And ended up installing 2 more sprinkler heads in the process. No more flooding and everything is getting much more coverage. May 3, 2021 at 20:15

1 Answer 1


I do not miss those California sprinkler systems.

You have a long thin L shaped strip that needs to be watered, bounded by a wall on one side and concrete on the other.

My proposition: abandon the underground sprinkler system. It is loudly telling you it is more trouble and expense than it is worth.

Underground sprinklers are nice and unobtrusive for expanses of lawn and formal gardens. You have neither. You can easily run an aboveground length of PVC along the base of your wall. You could salvage sprinkler units from your old system and position them along the new PVC completely above ground, pointing away from your wall.

Everything will be in view and easy to maintain. Leaks will be immediately obvious. Your new pipe will be against the wall and so out of harm's way as regards people walking or mowing. The roots can do what they want underneath.

  • 1
    Painter here. Take a tray of that garden dirt to Sherwin-Williams and have them color match it in flat. Paint the PVC pipe that color. Quite agree : trying to have this underground pipe play nice with the tree roots isn't going to happen. If the client doesn't get that, in this economy, fire him. Jul 7, 2019 at 0:42
  • ??? I'm the client! Jul 7, 2019 at 1:11
  • 1
    @Sickest: your time on the front lines has earned you a field promotion.
    – Willk
    Jul 7, 2019 at 20:23
  • Thanks for the answer by the way. But I don't think i'm going to take that route. I thought about that route before I posted this question, since it's the most obvious solution. Jul 8, 2019 at 19:27
  • Old post. How did you solve this?
    – user113627
    Jun 17, 2021 at 2:51

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