What Is Best To Plant Near Septic Tank Drain Fields? (TOP 5 Tips)

Herbaceous plants, such as annuals, perennials, bulbs and ornamental grasses are generally the best choices for use on a septic drain field. Ornamental grasses also offer the advantages of having a fibrous root system that holds soil in place, and providing year-round cover.

  • Perennials and grasses (including ornamental grasses) work best around your septic tank and drain field. Their shallow root systems are less likely to invade the underground system and cause it damage. For the same reason, small, non- woody ground covers are a good choice.

What can you plant near septic field?

Plants Safe to Grow Over Septic Tanks and Drain Fields

  • Dogwood trees.
  • Japanese maple trees.
  • Eastern redbud trees.
  • Cherry trees.
  • Azalea shrubs.
  • Boxwood shrubs.
  • Holly shrubs.

Can you plant over a drain field?

Planting over a septic leach field (drain field) is possible if it is done with care. Growing shallow-rooted plants over the drainage area is recommended because they help remove excess moisture and nutrients from the soil and reduce erosion.

Can you plant a garden on top of a septic field?

The most important reason you should not install a vegetable garden on top of, or right next to, a septic system disposal field is because the plants can become contaminated by wastewater that has not yet been renovated by the field. Plants on disposal fields can absorb wastewater pathogens.

How close can you plant to a leach field?

Never plant any tree closer than 10 feet to the edge of your leach field.

What can you plant near sewer pipes?

The best trees to plant around your sewerage system include shallow-rooted trees and shrubs:

  • Cherry trees.
  • Japanese maple trees are among one of the few maple trees that are likely to cause less damage.
  • Eastern redbud trees.
  • Dogwood trees.
  • Holly shrubs.
  • Boxwood shrubs.

Can you plant arborvitae near septic tank?

A common hedging plant for narrow spaces is pyramidal arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Fastigiata,’ or its greener cultivar ‘Emerald Green’). From my observation, it forms a dense root mass that would run into the septic field unless contained, but could provide a decent screen with a confined root run.

Can you put pavers over a septic drain field?

You can’t build a paver patio on top of a septic tank, and doing so could be against the planning laws of your state or local area. Septic tanks can take very little weight without getting damaged, and you’ll also need access to the tank in the future too. You shouldn’t build a deck on one either.

Can you plant clover over a drain field?

Clover could grow there and would be acceptable providing the soil meets the needs of that clover, a proper soil pH range (6.2 to 6.8), sufficient levels of nutrients to support good healthy growth and good drainage, but an evenly moist soil.

Can you put mulch over septic tank?

Gardens. Landscape fabric, plastic, bark, or mulch should not be used over your septic system. These materials reduce air exchange while bark and mulch also retain excess moisture. Adding more than a few inches of soil over the drainfield, such as for raised beds, limits air exchange and can lead to compaction.

Can you plant vegetables over a septic tank?

Septic tank vegetable gardens are not recommended. Although a properly functioning septic system should not cause any problems, it is very hard to tell when the system is working 100 percent efficiently. Vegetable plant roots grow down in search of nutrients and water, and they can easily meet wastewater.

Can you build a greenhouse over a septic field?

A greenhouse can be erected on a septic field to grow certain types of plants. The greenhouse should not have permanent foundations, which could easily damage the septic system. Do not plant directly into the ground over a septic field, as the plants could absorb contaminants released by the system.

What kind of trees can you plant near a septic tank?

Here are some example of trees and shrubs with shallow root systems that are safe to plant near your septic system:

  • Japanese Maple Trees.
  • Holly Shrubs.
  • Dogwood Trees.
  • Cherry Trees.
  • Boxwood Shrubs.
  • Eastern Redbud Trees.
  • Azalea Shrubs.

Can you plant hydrangeas near septic tank?

You would have no problems with the septic 9′ away – the hydrangea roots will extend approx as far as its widest stems, they don’t have an extensive root system.

What can you not plant near a septic tank?

You definitely shouldn’t plant large shrubbery or trees anywhere near your septic tank. Any trees planted in your yard should be at least as far away from the septic tank as the tree is tall. For example, a 20-foot-tall tree should be planted at least 20 feet away from the septic tank.

Can lilacs be planted near a septic tank?

Since lilac root systems are shallow, they can only reach the base of shallow foundations. If you have a deep foundation, there is little risk of damage. If you’ve planted your lilac shrub 8 to 10 feet (2.5-3 m.) from water and sewer lines, however, there is little risk of damage, even if the pipes have cracks.

Septic Tank Care: Which Trees to Plant Near Your Septic System

The addition of trees, bushes, and other plant life may improve the overall look of any landscape, but it is important to exercise caution when planting anything near a septic system. In our last article, we discussed which portions of your septic system are most sensitive to tree-root damage, as well as how far away you should place your trees from the septic system’s perimeter. The moment has come to take a look if you haven’t already done so. The trees, shrubs, and other plants that are safe to plant near your sewage system and the trees and shrubs that you should avoid growing anywhere near your septic system will be discussed today in detail.

Why might it be beneficial to plant vegetation near or over your leach field?

Several homeowners have become so anxious about the prospect of planting trees, bushes, or anything else in their leach field that they avoid doing it entirely. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, growing the appropriate sort of plants may be good to the health of your septic system. This is due to the fact that plants aid in the prevention of erosion by eliminating excess moisture from your leach field.

Which plants are safe to place near or over your leach field?

Planting plants with shallow root systems, such as grasses, annuals, and perennials, is your best hope for preventing soil erosion. Spring bulbs, wild violets, hollyhocks, bee balm, and deer-resistant perennials are all excellent alternatives for planting in the early spring. When it comes to planting trees and shrubs, on the other hand, you need to be a little more cautious. Planting trees and shrubs with shallow root systems near your septic system is quite safe. Here are a few examples of such plants:

  • Japanese Maple Trees, Holly Shrubs, Dogwood Trees, Cherry Trees, Boxwood Shrubs, Eastern Redbud Trees, Azalea Shrubs, and other ornamental plants

Keep in mind that you should avoid planting any plants near your septic system if you intend to eat the produce from it. It is possible that you may have better development, but none of the fruits or vegetables that are grown will be safe to consume.

What plants should you avoid placing near your leach field?

As a general guideline, you should avoid planting any trees or shrubs that are known to develop quickly and become enormous, as well as those that are known to actively seek out water sources. Other trees are more picky about the water sources they will seek out than others, and some species, such as weeping willow trees, will go for the water in the pipes that go through the leach field and into the surrounding fields. In the following list, you will find some examples of trees and plants that you should avoid planting in or near your leach field.

  • The following plants are included: Japanese Willow Shrubs, Ash and Birch trees, Pussy Willow Shrubs, Aspen trees, Tulip trees, Maple trees, Beeches, and other similar plants.

As we discussed in our last article, any trees or bushes that you plant should be placed as far away from your septic system as possible, regardless of how large they are. For example, a tree that grows to be 30 feet tall will need to be placed at least 30 feet away from your septic system in order to be effective. Our objective at Septic Remedies is to serve as your one-stop shop for all of your septic tank needs. Please contact us or visit our website for additional information on how to properly maintain your septic system.

Landscaping Around a Septic System: Do’s and Don’ts

Riverside, California 92504-17333 Van Buren Boulevard Call us right now at (951) 780-5922. A big number of large plants, patios, and other structures are likely to be absent from the region surrounding your septic system. Indeed, conventional thinking is that you should avoid both large landscaping and septic systems in the vicinity of one other. This is a reasonable guideline to follow since roots can entangle themselves around pipes and cause them to burst. Plants, on the other hand, can absorb excess rainfall and decrease erosion, so landscaping around your septic system might not be such a bad idea after all.

You don’t want roots to penetrate the perforations and clog the system, so keep them out. All of the components of this meticulously calibrated system must be in perfect working order, or else the outcome will be an expensive malfunction.

Landscaping Do’s and Don’ts

  • Plants that do not require a lot of water should be used. This stops plant roots from looking for water and interfering with your system’s functionality. Make use of herbaceous plants with shallow roots, such as flowers and ground cover. When planting quarts, gallons, or plugs, make sure to keep your plants somewhat near to one another to prevent erosion. This will help restrict the growth of weeds. If you have any trees or shrubs growing in your yard in the future, consider how their development may impede access to the septic tank lids, leach field, and sprinkler system. Using a potted plant, riser cover, or lawn ornament just above your access hatch, you may mark the position of your access hatch. When it comes time to dig it up, it will be much simpler to do so. Allow tall Kentucky bluegrass or another type of lawn to grow over the plot of ground that serves as a septic tank cover. Consider the benefits of growing perennials. Because both grasses and perennials have a shallow root structure, they should have no negative impact on your tank or drain field. Make use of tiny, non-woody groundcovers to disguise weeds. Think about planting shallow-rooted trees and vegetation (such as cherry trees, dogwood trees, holly bushes, azalea shrubs, and boxwood shrubs) in the area around your septic system, but make sure they are at least 10-15 feet away from the tank.
  • Get so concerned about plants and grasses hurting your septic tank that you completely demolish the surrounding region. Some grasses and plants are particularly effective at collecting excess rainwater surrounding the drain field, hence reducing the likelihood of drainage problems. Overwatering your lawn may encourage freshly planted plants to flourish more quickly. Overwatering can cause soil to contract over your leach field, which can cause your septic system to get clogged. Root vegetables can be grown in the vicinity of your system. If these nutrient-absorbing plants are planted too near together, they may cause problems with microorganisms.
  • Install plastic sheeting or ponds to keep the water out. These characteristics obstruct effective drainage from the tank to the leach field. Overlook the septic tank or leach field and construct walkways and high-traffic routes
  • Don’t forget that the placement of fencing and gates might have an impact on septic pumper truck access. The hoses on the truck are quite heavy, and we do not recommend that you use them to cross fences. The majority of pumpers like to have access within 50 feet of their vehicle. Planting plants or trees around the septic system is a good idea. Forestry professionals recommend planting trees 20 feet or more away from water, but trees that are known to hunt for water should be planted 50 feet or more away from water. Planting shrubs near the system is a good idea. Vegetables that are nutrient-rich can be grown on a septic system. However, contamination is a worry depending on how efficiently your soil filters microorganisms, even if it appears to be excellent for a garden. Susan Day, an expert on urban forestry at Virginia Tech, advocates planting aboveground veggies rather than root vegetables in close proximity as a safeguard. Disrupt the drainage system by constructing ponds, using plastic sheeting, or planting plants that require a lot of upkeep. Increase foot traffic in regions that are already established. The greater the amount of foot traffic, the more compacted the earth gets.

Plants Safe to Grow Over Septic Tanks and Drain Fields

As long as you choose the landscaping for the region around your septic system with care, you won’t have to be so concerned about the possibility of septic system damage caused by roots that you refrain from planting in these places entirely. It is not only permissible, but really desirable, to cultivate the appropriate kind of plants in this location. Plants will help to prevent erosion and will also help to absorb some of the surplus rainwater from the drainage system. The ideal plants to use around your septic tank and drain field are perennials and grasses (including decorative grasses).

Small, non-woody ground coverings are a wonderful choice for the same reason: they are low maintenance.

It is not safe to consume food crops that have been planted in the ground near a drain field since doing so may result in the consumption of hazardous microorganisms.

The following are examples of shallow-rooted plants and shrubs:

  • Dogwood trees, Japanese maple trees, Eastern redbud trees, cherry trees, azalea shrubs, boxwood shrubs, and holly shrubs are examples of ornamental trees and shrubs.
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The Worst Plants to Grow Over Septic Systems

Planting huge, rapidly growing trees is often discouraged. However, some of the greatest offenders are trees and shrubs with root systems that are aggressively seeking out sources of water, which makes them particularly difficult to control. They are not picky about the water source from which they draw their water, which means the pipes in your septic tank drain field are completely fair game. Weeping willow trees are a well-known example of this. There are several trees and bushes to avoid, however the following are only a few examples:

  • The following are examples of plants and trees: Pussywillow bushes, Japanese willow shrubs, Weeping willow trees, Aspen trees, Lombardy poplar trees, Birch trees, Beech trees, and Elm trees The majority of maple trees, with the exception of Japanese maples
  • American sweetgum trees
  • Ash trees
  • Tulip trees

The following are examples of plants and trees: Pussywillow bushes; Japanese willow shrubs; Weeping willow trees; Aspen trees; Lombardy poplar trees; Birch trees; Beech trees; Elm trees The majority of maple trees, with the exception of Japanese maples; American sweetgum trees; Ash trees; Tulip trees; and many more species

What Trees Are Safe to Plant Near a Septic Tank?

Davey utilizes cookies to make your experience as pleasant as possible by giving us with analytics that allow us to provide you with the most relevant information possible. By continuing to use this site, you acknowledge and agree to our use of third-party cookies. For additional information, please see ourPrivacy Policy. Subscribe to “The Sapling” on the Davey Blog for the most up-to-date information on how to keep your outside area in peak condition throughout the year. Septic systems, which have thick pipes that go deep throughout the yard, raise a lot of problems regarding what you may plant and where you can put it.

Landscaping Ideas Around Septic Tanks: What to Plant Over a Septic Tank

Regardless of what you’ve heard, it’s not impossible that this will happen! It is true that the correct type of plant or tree may assist the system in keeping water flowing smoothly and preventing erosion. Plants that function best have soft, green stems and are well-adapted to the amount of rain that falls in your location. In other words, we’re talking about annual plants versus perennial plants against wildflowers versus bulbs versus grass. Trees may also be used, as long as you select one with shallow roots and place it a long distance away from the tank.

Can I plant oak trees, Japanese maples or fruit trees near a septic tank?

It is possible, but it is really difficult! The roots of trees are wired to follow the flow of water. As a result, if you plant trees or bushes too close to your irrigation system, they may pry into the pipes and block them, causing harm to the system and the water flow in your home. When it comes to landscaping near the tank, the plants we described above are typically a better choice. In fact, you may cover the system with flowers like those (or even grass) to disguise the system’s presence.

Thus, white oaks and crabapples are both good choices for landscaping.

Maple trees are infamous for blocking drains and sewer lines.

Biological or viral contamination of any plants grown in close proximity to your sewage tank may be a concern.

What trees are safe to plant near a septic system?

Getting back to the original reader who sparked this discussion: because of their shallow roots, skyrocket junipers may be planted in a variety of locations. However, there is a caveat to this, as well as to all of the other options listed below. If possible, place the tree as far away from the system as the tree will be when it is completely matured. Consequently, while skyrocket junipers normally grow to be 20 feet tall, it is recommended that they be planted at least 20 feet away from the system.

  1. In zones 3-8, hemlock grows to be a beautiful evergreen that may reach heights of up to 80 feet. (Zones 3-8): An evergreen with wonderfully colored needles that may grow to be 80 feet tall
  2. It can be found in zones 3-8. Boxwood shrub (zones 4-9): An evergreen that is commonly used for hedges and grows to be around 10 feet tall
  3. It is a good choice for small gardens. Dogwood (hardiness zones 5-8): A spring-flowering tree that normally develops to be around 30 feet tall
  4. It blooms in the spring. Stunning blooming trees that grow between 30 and 50 feet tall in zones 5-8, ornamental cherries are a must-have for any garden. An added bonus is that there are several kinds and cultivars to pick from. In zones 5-9. American holly (Acer rubrum): An evergreen with vivid flashes of berries that often grows to reach around 50 feet tall
  5. It is a multi-stemmed palm that develops to be around 6 feet tall in zones 5b-11. The lady palm (zones 8-11) is a distinctive palm that may be grown to seem like a shrub and can grow to be around 10 feet tall. The pygmy date palm (zones 9-11) is a pint-sized palm that grows to approximately 12 feet tall and is extremely easy to grow.

Want a local arborist to plant your tree to keep your septic system safe? Start here.

In zones 3-8, hemlock grows to be a beautiful evergreen that may reach heights of 80 feet. It may grow to be 80 feet tall and has gorgeous colorful needles. It is a hardy evergreen that grows in zones 3-8. Boxwood shrub (zones 4-9): A popular choice for hedges, boxwood grows to a maximum height of around 10 feet and is a favorite of gardeners throughout. Zones 5-8 are home to the dogwood tree. a spring-flowering tree that normally grows to be around 30 feet tall, with flowers in the spring; Stunning blooming trees that grow between 30 and 50 feet in height in zones 5-8, ornamental cherries are a must-have.

(Zones 5-9): An evergreen with vivid flashes of berries that often grows to be around 50 feet tall, the American holly.

The pygmy date palm (zones 9-11) is a pint-sized palm that grows to around 12 feet tall and is extremely easy to care for.

Landscaping and Planting Ideas for your Septic Drain FieldSeptic Tank

Water is a precious resource in most rural and regional parts of British Columbia, and access to a public sewer system can be difficult to come by in many of these locations. As a result, many households and businesses in British Columbia require a septic system in order to function properly – both to conserve water and because there are no other waste disposal choices available when outside of the city sewage system. If your family or business relies on a septic system to manage waste, you will be acutely aware of the financial outlay you have invested in the system’s purchase, installation, and ongoing maintenance.

  1. Because of this, it is critical to understand not just how your septic system works, but also how landscaping and planting can have an influence on the lifetime of your septic field.
  2. What is the operation of a septic drain field?
  3. The wastewater from your toilet, shower, kitchen sink, dishwasher, and washing machine runs to your septic system if your house or company does not have connection to a public sewer.
  4. So, how exactly does a septic system function?
  5. In your septic system, waste gradually separates, with liquids rising to the top and solid, inorganic waste (such as sand, synthetic fibers, and small pieces of plastic) settling to the bottom as sludge as time goes on.
  6. Tank sludge must be pumped out at regular intervals, often every few years, to guarantee that the septic system continues to work effectively and lasts for an extended period of time.
  7. The sewage system, as well as recycling This’soil absorption area’ is also referred to as a leach field or a septic drain field, depending on who you ask.

After a few preliminary phases, the ultimate treatment and distribution take place in this location.

(See Figure 1).

It is necessary for the effluent to drain at a sufficient rate in order for the organisms to operate efficiently.

Observations on Mound Systems In certain septic systems, such asAbove Ground Septic Systems or Sand Mound Septic Systems, the drain field is elevated above ground in an artificial mound, allowing for better drainage.

In regions where specific environmental factors (such as a high water table, shallow soil cover, and/or when the land drains too rapidly or too slowly) preclude the installation of a standard septic system, the system was created to address these issues.

Mound systems operate in much the same way as typical below-ground systems; however, the mound itself must be stabilized in order to prevent erosion and other disturbances that might cause damage to the drain field.

Septic Field Landscaping, is it necessary?

In a nutshell, sure. There are a variety of factors contributing to this. Perhaps most persuasive is the fact that planting on a septic drain field can assist to stabilize the region and lessen the likelihood of the soil cover eroding in the future. Erosion can cause damage to the drain field, which can be extremely expensive to repair because the drain field is often the most expensive component of a septic system. Besides that, plants have the ability to take surplus nutrients and moisture from the soil.

  • The capillary action of the vegetation’s roots will also suck some of the wastewater out of the soil, which will aid in not only cleaning the water but also in removing some of the soil moisture from the environment.
  • The planting of grass or low root plants is often required by code to aid in transpiration, erosion management (as previously indicated), and to provide insulative characteristics in cold areas, among other things.
  • Landscape design over the septic tank will conceal the lids and access locations, while planting on the septic field will provide you with a lush grass and abundant plant life.
  • Planting on your septic drain field with the appropriate grasses and plants not only improves the performance of the system, but it also completely conceals any underground infrastructure.
  • Because the root systems of some plants can penetrate and cause damage to the pipes or other components inside the drain field, this is a major reason for this.

So, what should you consider when planting on a septic drain field?

In an ideal situation, you would choose plants that would fulfill your house or business landscaping needs while also maintaining the drain field as free of deep-rooted vegetative or weather risks as feasible. Finding out about a plant’s rooting tendencies and water requirements is the most straightforward approach to determine whether or not it is suitable for a drain field. Look for shallow-rootedherbaceous plants that are already established in your location or that have been acclimated to the average rainfall quantities in your region.

Choosing flora that is both shallow-rooted and drought-tolerant will help you to decrease your effort to a bare minimum totally. These kind of plants should require little to no watering, if any at all.

Some of the plants that are safe for your drain field are:

  • Holly shrubs, boxwood shrubs, azalea shrubs, Holly Hocks, wild violets, and spring bulbs are some of the options.

Some trees that are septic safe, including fruit trees, include:

  • Dogwood trees, Japanese maple trees, Eastern Redbud trees, and cherry trees are examples of such trees.

When planting fruit trees near a drain field, extreme caution should be exercised, especially if there is a surface breakout from the septic system. Pathogens such as Escherichia coli and Enterobacter spp., which can be transferred from the septic drain field to the trees, have been identified. It is recommended by North Dakota University that a root barrier be erected, since this will prevent roots from entering into the septic lines. A typical rule of thumb, while not always applicable, is to maintain a distance between the septic system and the tree that is proportional to the height of the tree.

Some of the worst plants and trees to cover a septic drain field or septic tank are:

  • Pussy Willow Shrubs, Japanese Willow Shrubs, Aspen Trees, Lombardy Poplar Trees, Birch Trees, Elm Trees, Maple Trees (other than Maple Trees), American Sweet Gum Trees, Ash Trees, Tulip Trees, Walnut Trees, Willow Trees, Cypress Trees, and Pine Trees are some of the plants that grow in this area.

It is also not suggested to grow shrubs with extensive root systems, such as Caryopteris (also known as Bluebeard or blue mist spirea). Planting vegetation with a deep root structure, water-loving roots that will develop aggressively deep and perhaps block or harm the pipes in the septic drain field is something you should avoid. As previously stated, septic systems – especially the drain field – may be quite expensive to repair. Furthermore, a faulty system might get extremely clogged and can have a negative influence on the environment.

(For example, avoid planting immediately before a major rainstorm.) You want the plants to establish themselves fast in order to reduce the likelihood of soil erosion.

Irritating the drain field can cause the soil to become saturated to an unacceptably high degree, preventing the effluent from evaporating and, as a result, increasing the likelihood of groundwater pollution.

Maintaining septic drain field vegetation

As much as you may want to plant over the drain field so that it integrates smoothly with your landscape and you forget that it exists, this is not the ideal option in most cases. Maintain visibility of your drain field, or make people aware of it through other methods, such as a plant barrier or fence. Holding big social events is discouraged; mowing the grass is OK; however, foot traffic should be kept to a minimum. If you are unclear of any potential conditions that might have a detrimental impact on your system, always consult with your Septic System Installer.

This is OK, as long as they are at least 50 feet away from your septic system and drain field, which is recommended.

Keep these trees at least 20 feet away from the septic tank and drain field, or as far away as the mature height of the tree allows you to go.

Can I plant a vegetable garden over the Septic System?

As much as you may want to plant over the drain field so that it integrates smoothly with your landscape and you forget that it exists, this is not the greatest solution in this situation. Maintain visibility of your drain field, or make people aware of it through other measures, such as a plant barrier or fence, to discourage people from entering. Large social events should be avoided; mowing the grass is perfectly OK; however, visitors should be limited. If you are unclear of any potential scenarios that might negatively impact your system, always consult with your Septic System Installer.

See also:  How To Put In A New Drain Line For A Septic Tank? (Solution found)

The fact that they are 50 feet or more away from your septic system and drain field is OK.

Remember to keep these trees at least 20 feet away from the septic tank and drain field, or as far as the mature height of the tree allows.

  • Covering the drain field with more dirt unless the amount is insignificant or the material is being used to repair an area that has been eroded or dragged up by the removal of another plant should be avoided.
  • Tilling the soil– If at all possible, avoid doing this. Please keep in mind that the pipe for your septic system drain field might be as near as 12 inches from the soil surface, and in some cases much closer.
  • Gloves– When dealing with the soil from your drain field, it is essential that you wear gloves. A virus might be present in the water leaking from your septic system into the drain field, and if it came into touch with your skin, eyes, or mouth it could cause you to get extremely sick.
  • Use of groundcovers– If you are selecting a groundcover for your drain field, such as a native grass or creeper, avoid using species that are known to form a thick, dense canopy over the drain field. In order for your septic system to work efficiently, the effluent in the drain field must be allowed to evaporate, which cannot occur if the ground cover is too thick.
  • Native species– Select plants that are native to your area and have a high level of adaptability. It will be less necessary for you to fertilize or water the drain field area as a result.
  • Native species– Select plants that are native to your area and have a high level of adaptation to it. If you do not fertilize or water the drain field area, you will save time and money.

A selected listing of plants for use on septic drain fields

The following are some more suggestions for plants that do well in drain fields in British Columbia. This list is not exhaustive, so make sure to conduct more research to confirm that the plants you pick will survive in the circumstances that are typical of your region before purchasing them. Fescue, lawn, and ornamental grasses are examples of grasses. Meadow mixtures with wildflowers Groundcovers that are tolerant of the sun Kinnickinick heathers (Calluna) are a kind of heather (Arctostaphylos) Soapwort is a kind of plant that is used to make soap (Saponaria) Groundcovers for Providing Shade Bunchberry is a kind of berry (Cornus) Ferns that are indigenous to the area Mosses that are indigenous to the area Sweet Woodruff is a flowering plant that is native to the United States (Galium) Ginder in the wild (Asarum) Wintergreen (Gaultheria) is a plant that grows in the winter.

Could you please tell me what native plants I can plant on the drain field?

A formal garden or an informal garden over your septic system might be challenging to design. You want a beautiful yard, but you don’t want it to come at the price of causing damage to your onsite waste water system. The majority of rural Michigan houses have an onsite waste water system (septic system), which consists of a septic tank and a water drainage field to dispose of the treated water once it has been treated. In a state with over 1.3 million septic systems, homeowners can choose to have their septic system installed in the front, side, or rear of their property, which will take up a significant amount of area in their backyard.

  1. If you follow a few simple dos and don’ts, you can keep your onsite water treatment system in good condition while still enjoying the landscape you desire.
  2. The use of just shallow-rooted flowers and grasses over the drain field will be emphasized by some sources.
  3. Another option is to choose plants that are drought tolerant so that the mound does not need to be watered as often.
  4. For the ordinary homeowner, this jumble of information can be perplexing and overwhelming.

“Big Bluestem was one of the grasses that was recommended for planting on the drain field. I believe that the root system may reach depths of up to 15-20 feet and is composed of fibrous roots. One client screamed, “That appears to be in direct conflict with the “shallow root system” suggestion!”

About septic systems

It is important to choose and arrange native plants in your landscaping with regard for their closeness to your septic system, just as you would with any other plant in your environment. Prepare yourself for the septic system by being familiar with its fundamental components before you begin working on your landscaping project. Sub-surface trench systems and mound systems are the two types of septic systems most commonly seen in Michigan. For initial separation and partial treatment, both systems contain piping that leads out of the home and into a septic tank.

  • A soil absorption or drain field is a series of ditches lined with perforated pipe that is laid on a gravel bed or a sand bed. Drain field surrounded by a three- to four-foot mound of sand elevated above ground level.

These fields are structured to drain the external water from rain and snow melt out from the field rather than into it when they are properly designed and constructed. In turn, the surface soils in the drain field become drier than those in other parts of the landscape as a result of this phenomenon. This suggests that the plants you choose for this location should be drought tolerant. Avoid having a lot of people strolling or driving through your drain field. This causes the soil to become compacted, reducing its capacity to effectively drain water.

Irrigation systems should never be installed over a drainage field.

If your drain field area is flooded, has standing water, or accumulates rainwater, it is strongly advised that you stop here and contact for a septic examination.

Choosing plants that do not interfere with septic system operations

The ability to select the most appropriate plants for a given site is essential for creating a successful landscape. When selecting native plants for over drain fields, look for ones that thrive in arid climates such as the prairie. Plant material is available in a variety of forms, including seed mixes, chosen plants, and plugs. Native plants will absorb the increased nutrients in the soil, keeping them from entering the groundwater as rapidly as they otherwise would. Aside from that, because they do not grow in water-saturated circumstances, the roots of dry prairie plants do not block sewage system pipes.

These plants are looking for extra moisture and will most likely infiltrate holes and pipes that have been left exposed.

Their thin roots, on the other hand, need constant surface watering and frequent lawnmower traffic to keep the lawn in good shape.

Making the decision to plant a native garden is low-maintenance since it requires no fertilizer, mowing, or watering. It does need some weeding and the removal of seasonal dead plants, though. As an extra benefit, it will draw the attention of butterflies, bees, and other animals to your garden.

A few choices for a short grass dry prairie, may include:

  • Wildflowers In sunny spots, plant the following forbs: butterfly weed, sky blue aster (also known as smooth aster), white aster (also known as white aster), sweet everlasting (also known as Canada milk vetch), Lance leaf Coreopsis (also known as purple prairie clover), Pale Purple Coneflower (also known as Rough Blazing Star), Royal Catchfly (also known as Royal Catchfly), Lupine (also known as Dotted Mint), Beardtongue (also Consider the following plants for shaded locations: Astilbe, Hardy Begonia, Turtle Head, Ferns, Sweet Woodruff, and Lady’s Mantle
  • And Grasses and Sedges are a type of plant that grows in a grassy or sedgey environment. Rushes include Sideoats Grama, Little Bluestem, Prairie Dropseed, Plains Oval Sedge, June grass, and Prairie Brome, among others. Shrubs Over any component of a septic system, it is not suggested to plant any type of tree. In the event that you decide to plant trees and shrubs, make sure to pick an upland type and to plant it far enough away from the drain field or mound so the dripline of the mature tree will fall outside of it. Plants that bloom in spring include: Arum, Anemone/Windflowers, Crocus (including Hyacinths), Iris (including Lilies), Daffodils, and Tulips (Note: some of the bulbs listed have been naturalized, but not all of them are native.)

Finally a few reminders:

  • Water-loving plants, bushes, and trees should not be planted in close proximity to your septic system. Growing vegetables over your septic system is not recommended due to the potential of bacterial contamination and the health hazards associated with it. It is not necessary to add more soil to your drainfield. It is necessary to have a septic examination performed if the soil in your drain field region is constantly moist or has standing water, or if you have water backing up into your home. It’s possible that your field failed
  • It is essential that you maintain a layer of vegetation over your drain field in order to keep the dirt in place and keep the system running properly. When planting, try to avoid tilling the soil too much. It is possible that you will upset or damage your drain pipes.

More resources for planting over septic systems:

Michigan State University Extension: For a comprehensive list of Michigan native flora, see their website. For an overview and a plant list, see the Purdue Extension Bulletin HENV-15-W. Clemson Extension Bulletin: For a list of plants as well as some helpful hints. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is responsible for Septic systems in Michigan are covered in detail in this section. As soon as you see any indicators of issue with your septic system, contact your local County Health Department and have your septic system drained and thoroughly examined at the earliest opportunity.

Related MSU Extension News articles:

  • Waste management for household septic systems is covered in three parts: Waste management for household septic systems – Part One
  • Waste management for household septic systems – Part Two
  • Waste management for household septic systems – Part Three.

MSU Extension Educator Beth Clawson can be contacted for additional information about the Michigan Septic System Education program. For additional information on landscaping with native plants, contact Michigan State University ExtensionNatural Resources educators, who are working around the state to provide water quality educational programming and support to residents. You can reach out to an educator using MSU Extension’s “Find an Expert” search engine by searching for “Natural Resources Water Quality” in the keywords field.

Growing Over Septic Tanks: Choosing Plants To Grow On A Septic System

Liz Baessler is the author of this piece. Septic drain fields are a challenging landscape design challenge. They frequently cover a big area of ground that would appear weird if it were left uncultivated. In the case of a property with a lot of shade, it can be the only sunny spot accessible to you. In a dry area, it can be the only place where there is any moisture. On the other hand, not everything that may grow on a septic drain field is considered safe. Continue reading to find out more about selecting plants that are compatible for septic systems.

Growing Over Septic Tanks

What is a septic drain field, and how does it work? Basically, it’s a more environmentally friendly alternative to sewer systems, which are typically found on rural estates. A septic tank is a device that separates solid waste from liquid waste. Liquid waste is transported underground through long, broad, perforated pipes that are buried deep into the ground. The wastewater is discharged gradually into the soil, where it is broken down and cleansed by bacteria before finally reaching the groundwater table and entering the water supply.

It is critical, however, to select the appropriate plants for growing on a septic system.

Septic Field Plant Choices

Whether or whether it is safe to produce vegetables on a septic field is a matter of disagreement. Root vegetables should be avoided at all costs, and mulch should be laid down to prevent wastewater from splashing up on leaves and fruit throughout the growing season. Really, if you have another location where you can grow your veggies, it is preferable to do it there. Flowers and grasses are a better option than shrubs. Due to the fact that the perforated pipes are typically 6 inches (15 cm) below ground, plants that are suitable for septic systems have shallow roots.

If possible, consider plants that require little maintenance and don’t need to be divided every year – this will assist to decrease pedestrian traffic. The following are examples of suitable septic field plants:

  • Butterfly weed, Sedum, Lily of the Nile, Tulip, Daffodils, Hyacinth, Crocus, Foxglove, Black eyed Susan, Primrose, and more flowers

When planting on a septic drain field, restrict digging to a bare minimum and use gloves at all times to avoid contamination. This page was last updated on Learn more about Flower Garden Maintenance in General.

What Should You Plant Over the Septic System?

Among the plants seen here are creeping phlox, dwarf boxwood, hebe,thyme, and iris, all of which are deemed acceptable for planting over a septic field.

See also:  How Clean Is The Water After A Septic Tank Working Properly?

Interested in Onsite Systems?

Get articles, news, and videos about Onsite Systems delivered directly to your email! Now is the time to sign up. Plus, there are Onsite Systems. Receive Notifications As you go about your daily pumping rounds, you’ve seen the many different ways that homeowners may sabotage their septic systems by using bad landscaping or making other ill-informed land-use decisions. When the driveway becomes overcrowded, people park their automobiles on top of the septic system. They build a wooden deck over the septic tank, making it difficult for you to get to it.

  1. They promote root infiltration, soil compaction, and broken and damaged drainlines, and then wonder why they’re having trouble maintaining the septic tank.
  2. On Bowen Island in the British Columbia province of Canada, there is a landscape and garden designer by the name of Wynn Nielsen.
  3. A presentation on landscaping around a septic system was recently prepared by Nielsen to assist disgruntled property owners – who may not be aware that they have a septic system or who may not even be aware that they do have one – who are confused about how their system operates.
  4. In Nielsen’s experience, landscaping designers are often late to the game when properties are being developed, because landowners have formed preconceived views about how they want to use their lots before the designers arrive.
  5. According to her, “septic fields tend to occupy the most appealing portions of a lot, and people tend to want to utilize them.” “People want to build patios, decks, and hot tubs on their properties.
  6. I’m the one who has to break the terrible news to you that you won’t be able to accomplish that without causing damage to the septic field.
  7. “It would be wonderful if there were greater awareness of the end-user.” The majority of pumpers are gearing up for the start of the hectic season.
  8. Some of Nielsen’s presentation may be useful in explaining how each planting option might affect the effective usage and lifetime of a customer’s septic system to them in your presentations.

Additionally, Nielsen has these words of wisdom for septic pumpers and installers: If homeowners have a lot of questions and worries regarding their landscaping, they should not be shy about calling in an expert.


Your knowledge of the first guideline of planting around a septic system includes knowing to avoid thirsty plants that have deep roots. Water-loving trees such as willows, birch, silver maple, elm, beech, walnut, and linden, according to Nielsen, should be kept at a safe distance from homes. The use of aggressive, dense ground coverings that will interfere with the evaporation process, such as pachysandra, cotoneaster and periwinkle, is discouraged, according to her. Others to stay away from because of their aggressive roots include vines and wisteria, as well as bittersweet, morning glory, campsis, and hops.

  • Any species of bamboo
  • Any plants with very strong lateral root development
  • Any other trees with a particularly strong lateral root growth Pond grasses that thrive in water and grow in vast quantities
  • Clematis native to the area (self-seeding)
  • Cedars (with the exception of genetic dwarfs)
  • Vinca stolonifera

Prairie grasses and meadows can be no-mow and can prevent driving across septic fields, both of which are beneficial characteristics, leading some people to believe they are desirable. Nielsen, on the other hand, believes that they are frequently poor alternatives for the septic field. The prairie grasses and perennials contain some of the longest, tangliest, and strongest roots on the planet, according to Dr. Smith. Prairie grasses have vigorous roots that are good at searching out water sources such as perforated drainpipes as a result of their drought-resistant characteristics.

  • While cedars are beautiful, they may be a nuisance when they grow next to a septic field.
  • When homeowners insist on planting trees with significant lateral root development, encourage them to take a deep breath and wait.
  • The owners of landscape-intensive yards must be cautioned not to plant vegetables over the septic field as this might cause serious problems.
  • They are cautioned, however, that disturbing the soil with these annual crops is detrimental to the septic system, and that the wastewater may include diseases that can be transmitted to the edibles.


While typical lawns are permitted for use over septic systems, Nielsen notes that many homes are moving away from that type of ground cover that requires a lot of upkeep and requires a lot of water.

She cites a few grass kinds that are commonly considered to be superior than others. Alternatives that are less risky include:

  • Eco-grass and fescues that have been pre-mixed
  • The tufted fescues, the feather grass, the pennisetum, and the deschampsia are examples of small grasses. Plants that look like grass, such as mounding mondo grass, liatris, liriope, and armeria

“Lawns are not particularly environmentally friendly. Most animals do not thrive in them, but we still have children and dogs, who enjoy running about on them,” she explains. “They are also a terrific location for youngsters to play.” As an alternative to standard lawns, Nielsen advises drought-tolerant plants with short, fibrous root systems that are hardy in your area and can thrive in both sun and shadow situations, depending on the situation. Her top recommendations include the use of microclover/ecograss/carex pensylvanica dwarf, the introduction of white clover, carpets (thyme, sedums, low-growing ground coverings), shallow, short/soft rooted perennials, bulb/corm/rhizome/tubers in lawns, and moss in the landscape.

Another option for adding interest to the landscape without putting the septic system at danger is to intersperse annuals or bulbs throughout the ground cover, according to Nielsen.

Furthermore, the newer dwarf tree and shrub kinds do not pose the same threat as their larger counterparts.

Fibrous root systems are found in a variety of shrubs including boxwood, potentilla, daphne, and choisya, as well as the euonymous and hebe.


Most of the time, homeowners employ Nielsen to design a landscaping plan after a site has been created and a home has been constructed. Developers and septic installers, on the other hand, should incorporate a landscape designer earlier in the process in order to ensure the greatest possible use of the site, according to Nielsen. According to Nielsen, the position of the septic field is frequently dictated by the land’s topography, and it is typically the flattest, sunniest section of the property that is also the greatest location for intensive horticulture.

“These choices have a negative impact on their capacity to use property that they have paid a lot of money for, which is unfortunate,” Nielsen adds.

They aren’t considering how the homeowner will wish to make use of the property while making their decisions.

My task would be a lot simpler if I had done a bit more planning ahead of time. Nielsen hopes to educate residents about septic systems and perhaps preserve a few septic systems as a result of her landscaping presentation and getting to know the pumping specialists on Bowen Island she is visiting.

Landscaping on or near Septic Drain Fields

Sewage treatment systems are intended to transport wastewater away from a residence or building, enabling the particles to separate from the liquids. Figure 1 shows a holding tank outside of the residence where particles are digested by bacteria. The liquids, or effluent water, flow out of the tank through a series of perforated drain pipes, allowing the percolation of wastewater away from the home and into an area known as the drain field (Figure 2). (also called a leach field). Before it reaches groundwater, the liquid is filtered by sediment and rock layers, while bacteria continue to decompose the effluent.

  • Nutrient sources for algal blooms along coastlines and as pollutants in lakes, rivers, streams, and springs include contaminants from the environment such as nitrogen and phosphorus.
  • 2016).
  • Image courtesy of the UF/IFAS GCREC Urban Soil and Water Quality Laboratory.
  • One technique to guarantee that your septic system operates at peak performance is to properly landscape the area around the drain field.
  • Homeowners, landscape management experts, and Extension agents who work in horticulture, natural resources, agriculture, and family services will find the information offered here to be beneficial.

Managing Water around the Drain Field

Because the drain field is typically located beneath other portions of residential property that are considered suitable for landscaping, it is important to take precautions to ensure that the plants on and surrounding the drain field do not penetrate or interfere with the drain field’s function. As a result, overcompaction and heavy traffic through the drain field must be avoided if the helpful bacteria that break down toxic waste products are to thrive (Dickert 2010). Roof and gutter runoff should be diverted away from the drain field, and irrigation systems should not be directed at or built in these locations.

More water flowing over and down through the drain field means fewer opportunities for contaminants to be filtered out before entering the groundwater under the surface.

In order to avoid costly damage to the system and the environment when landscaping, installing irrigation, or performing any other type of construction around a home or business that has a septic system, it is critical that a detailed property survey be completed that shows the location of the drain field.

Plants for the Drain Field

It is feasible to landscape the drain field, which can aid in the prevention of soil erosion. Furthermore, the suitable plants can assist in regulating a portion of the gas exchange essential for the septic system to function effectively. Only shallow-rooted plants, on the other hand, are permitted on or near the drainage field. Plants with large, deep roots, tap roots, or plants with a woody root system structure can not only prevent the system from functioning properly, but they can also cause damage to the system by growing into the pipes, requiring costly repairs and even causing backups of wastewater into and around the home, which can be very unpleasant (Dickert 2010).

  • It is possible to assess soil salinity at the UF/IFAS Extension Soil Testing Laboratory (ESTL;).
  • They have roots that are shallow and fibrous in nature.
  • It is not recommended to fertilize the turfgrass that grows over the drainfield.
  • However, avoid planting any large or tall grass species because their root systems can become invasive and cause damage to the surrounding area.
  • Drain fields can be covered with a variety of grasses, including St.
  • A lawn made of Saint Augustinegrass (figure 2).
  • Edible crops and vegetable gardens should not be grown on or near a septic tank or drain field because there is a risk that harmful germs or pollutants will enter the food chain.
  • Furthermore, the additional fertilizer and irrigation used in gardens will simply contribute to the nutrient load that is carried down the drain field.
  • Planting herbaceous plants on or around the drain field is an excellent alternative if turf cannot be planted or is not desired.
  • Making sure you plant the correct plant in the right area is crucial to not just the proper performance of your septic system, but also to the longevity of the plant in its own right.
  • Because a flooded drain field might be an indication of a failing septic system, plants that exhibit symptoms associated with excessive watering may indicate that a septic system check is required to be performed.

Milkweed is seen in Figure 3. Credit: Mary Lusk, University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agriculture

Additional Landscape Considerations

If you want to landscape on or near a septic drain field, keep in mind that the pipes can be just a few inches into the soil and 18″–36″ diameter, with pipes spaced 8 to 10 feet apart. You should avoid the following practices:

  • Increasing the amount of dirt in the region
  • Preparing the ground for sowing by tilling it
  • Plastic, bark, rock, or any sort of mulch can be used to cover any portion of the drain field area. Plants that need the use of more fertilizer or irrigation
  • Making use of landscape cloth
  • Excavating using shovels or other instruments to a depth of less than 6 inches
  • Planting any type of tree or plant on or near the drain field is prohibited.

Tree roots may quickly grow 2–3 times the breadth of the tree’s canopy, therefore putting a huge tree within 20 feet of a drain field, such as one that is 30 feet in diameter, is a recipe for septic system failure (Dickert 2010). A thorough inspection of the drain field designs might help you avoid making costly mistakes in the future.


Remember to avoid making any changes aboveground that might have an influence on the drain field below. The use of plants with shallow roots can assist in avoiding erosion and even filtration of some pollutants, while the use of plants with deep, expansive root systems, as well as plants that require a lot of upkeep or division over time, might result in septic failure. The soil, through processes like as filtration and absorption to soil particles, can remove some pollutants from the septic system region, but the soil is responsible for the vast majority of pollutant removal (Toor et al.

Given that septic tank effluent reaches the drain field soil at a depth below the rooting zone of most landscaping plants, plant absorption and removal of contaminants from the soil is limited (Lusk et al.

Don’t drive across or use a drain field for heavy activities to avoid compacting the soil above the drain field, and don’t dig into the drain field to avoid causing serious septic system damage.


G. M. Dickert’s Landscape Design for Septic Drain Fields was published in 2010. HGIC 1726 is a unique identification number. Clemson Cooperative Extension, Greenville, South Carolina. Lusk, M., and colleagues 2017. 455–541 in Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology47 (7): 455–541 in “A Review of the Fate and Transport of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Pathogens, and Trace Organic Chemicals in Septic Systems.” Toor, G., Lusk, M., and Obreza, T. (2001). 2011. System for the Treatment and Disposal of Sewage on-site: Nitrogen.

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is located in Gainesville.

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