If you must grow trees and shrubs, shallow-rooted kinds are better to grow around septic tank drain fields.
Shallow-rooted trees and shrubs include:
- Dogwood trees.
- Japanese maple trees.
- Eastern redbud trees.
- Cherry trees.
- Azalea shrubs.
- Boxwood shrubs.
- Holly shrubs.
- Dwarf tree varieties.
- However, if you are careful, you can put trees with non-invasive, shallow roots in the area around your drain field and septic tank. Some examples include crabapples and white oaks. It’s best to skip Japanese maple, as these are extremely well-known for their pipe clogging abilities.
What can you plant over a septic drain field?
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.
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 trees over a drain field?
Placing trees or shrubs over or near the leach field is risky. Woody plants have deeper roots that may clog drain pipes in relatively short order. Water-loving species are especially chancy and should be avoided, such as willow, poplar, elm, red and silver maple, birch and beech.
Can tree roots damage septic system?
Trees can cause significant damage to a septic system. Over time, tree roots can wreak havoc on the pipes and drain lines that lead out to the sewer or to your privately installed septic system. As a result, the roots can grow into the walls of the pipes and block the ability to drain water and waste.
What can you put over a septic tank?
Put plastic sheets, bark, gravel or other fill over the drainfield. Reshape or fill the ground surface over the drainfield and reserve area. However, just adding topsoil is generally OK if it isn’t more than a couple of inches. Make ponds on or near the septic system and the reserve area.
Can you plant a tree over a sewer line?
Select a Safe Planting Distance Keep all trees and shrubs at least 10 feet away from your sewer lateral. This goes for even the smallest, slowest growing species. Trees with spreading roots and species that require large amounts of water should be planted at least 20 feet from any underground pipe or utility line.
Can you plant trees over 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.
How far should a tree be planted from a sewer line?
Trees should be located more than 10 feet from sewer lines to minimize root intrusion.
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 I plant a palm tree near my septic tank?
Only a few trees are considered safe for septic systems, and they are deep-rooted trees like cherry, crabapple, dogwood, oak, olive, palm trees and pine trees.
How do you landscape a septic tank cover?
Find what fits in your yard and climate.
- Plant tall native grasses with fibrous roots around the opening to conceal the tank lid from view.
- Place a light statue, bird bath or potted plant over the septic lid.
- Septic tank risers and covers are an alternative to concrete and blend into green grass.
What kills tree roots in septic tanks?
Flush 2 pounds of granular copper sulfate down the toilet for every 300 gallons of water that the septic tank holds. Copper sulfate kills and dissolves tree roots as they absorb the tank’s water. After entering a tank, the majority of copper sulfate settles in tank, and little passes into the leach bed line.
How do I protect my septic tank from tree roots?
Copper Sulfate Copper sulfate is effective at killing roots growing in drain fields and septic tanks. Not only does copper sulfate kill already existing roots, but it also discourages the growth of new roots and keeps growing roots out of septic systems.
Can you plant crepe myrtle near septic?
A: Septic tanks and their pipes are not constructed to keep tree roots out. If you plant a shrub or tree near enough, eventually the roots will plug a line and cause problems. For trees like you are contemplating, plant them no closer than fifteen feet from the tank or to a drain field supply line.
Safe Plants to Grow Over Septic Tanks & Drain Fields
When some trees and bushes are planted near septic tanks and drain fields, their vigorous roots can cause harm to the tanks and drain fields. Find out which plants are the most dangerous to cultivate near a septic system and which ones are the safest.
Plants Safe to Grow Over Septic Tanks and Drain Fields
Keep in mind that you should not become so concerned about the possibility of root damage to septic systems that you avoid planting in these places completely. 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. Growing tall fescue grass, Kentucky bluegrass, or other lawn grass over that section of earth should be the bare minimum solution to the problem.
Plants such as creeping Charlie, stonecrop, and jewelweed will proliferate and cover a septic area effectively.
Because of their thin root systems, they are less prone to infiltrate and destroy the subsurface infrastructure.
It goes without saying that there are several instances of such plants, so you will want to limit down your options.
- If the location is sunny, try planting one of these 10 great perennials for sunny locations: However, if the location does not receive much sunlight, you will most likely be pleased with these shadow garden plants. Septic tank drain fields have soil that is sometimes wetter than usual, sometimes saltier than average, and sometimes a combination of the two. Make sure to cover both bases with perennials that can withstand both damp soils and salt, such as bee balm, hollyhocks, and wild violets. When it comes to plants growing over septic systems, deer will not turn their noses up at them
- Therefore, if you have a problem with this large pest eating your plants in your area, you will want to consider deer-resistant perennials and deer-resistant ground covers, as well as spring bulbs and ornamental grasses that deer do not eat
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. It is preferable to plant shallow-rooted trees and bushes around septic tank drain fields if you must plant trees and plants. The Spruce is an example of a shallow-rooted tree or shrub. K. Dave’s / K. Dave
The Worst Plants to Grow Over Septic Systems
Planting huge, fast-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: If you have avoided planting any of the most dangerous plants right over your septic tank drain field, you should still be concerned about the consequences.
Any huge, mature trees that may be growing in close proximity to your septic system continue to pose a threat.
As a result, a mature specimen 50 feet tall should be at least 50 feet distant from the viewer.
In the event that this is not practicable, root barriers can be installed to try to prevent tree roots from accessing your septic drain field (similar to the bamboo barriers used incontrolling invasive bamboo). The Spruce Tree K. Dave’s / K. Dave
The Basics of How Septic Systems Work
Septic systems are used to treat wastewater in rural regions that do not have access to sewer systems. An underground, waterproof container, the septic tank is where wastewater from your toilets, showers, sinks, and clothes washer is stored after it has been removed from your home via a pipe. Solids (sludge) and scum are separated from liquids in a septic tank, which is intended to do this. Solids sink to the bottom of the container. The slime rises to the top of the heap. The liquids create an intermediate layer between the scum and the sludge, separating them from the other two layers.
- The introduction of more wastewater from the residence serves as a stimulus for their expulsion.
- Upon discharge, liquids are channeled into a much bigger portion of the septic system known as the “drain field,” “leach field,” or “leach pit.” Typically, a drain field is composed of a number of perforated PVC pipes that are installed in subterranean trenches.
- Drain field cloth can be used to protect dirt from getting into the holes.
- “Percolation” is the term used to describe how wastewater moves through the earth.
- The evaporation of excess moisture from the soil will take care of any excess moisture unless you (inadvertently) do something to hinder it.
- The Spruce / written by K.
Planning a Septic Field Garden
When it comes to planting near septic tanks, the drain field pipes are the most important thing to consider. If roots penetrate the perforations and clog the system, it is best to remove them immediately. All of the components of this meticulously calibrated system must be in good working order, or else the consequence is a complete disaster (and a costly one). While annual flowers such as impatiens are shallow-rooted enough to be used as septic-field plants, the fact that they must be replanted every year makes them less than ideal for this purpose.
If you are digging in a drain field, you should always wear gloves to protect your hands.
All of the following are terrible ideas because they may interfere with the regular evaporation process, which is responsible for removing excess moisture from the environment:
- Increasing the amount of soil in the region Using excessive amounts of mulch
- Providing more water to the plants than is strictly necessary
What Trees Are Safe to Plant Near a Septic Tank?
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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Your septic tank is connected to your home by heavy pipes that run over and through your property. Because of the requirement of these pipelines, you may be wondering what you may safely grow in the vicinity of this location. It’s unfortunate, but there are some tree types that can cause major harm to a drain field or a septic tank, so you must exercise caution while working around them. However, if you follow the advice and information provided here, you may be certain that you have identified a few viable possibilities.
What to Plant Near or Over Your Septic Tank?
Please disregard any of the information you have received to this far. By selecting the appropriate species of tree or plant, you may actually aid in the efficient operation of your septic system as well as reducing the risk of erosion occurring on your property. It is likely that the plants that would thrive in this environment will have softer, greener stems and will have been adapted to the quantity of rain that is normally seen in your location.
Trees, believe it or not, may also be useful in some situations. Pick plants with shallow roots, and avoid placing them too near to the tank’s perimeter.
Fruit Trees, Japanese Maples and Oak Trees
While it is feasible to grow the three trees mentioned above near your sewage tank, doing so can be difficult. Because tree roots are naturally drawn to water sources, it makes sense that they would do so. It follows as a result that if you choose to plant your trees or shrubs in close proximity to your septic system, it is quite possible that they will make their way into the pipes and create difficulties. This will have a negative impact on the water flow in your home as well as the complete septic system.
Crabapples and white oaks are two examples of such trees.
Other varieties of fruit trees are also unlikely to be a good match for this particular variety.
Consider the implications of this.
Safe Trees for Septic Tank Areas
A list of trees that can be planted in and around the septic tank area can be found further down this page. Although it is recommended that you keep them as far away from your system as possible, it is still a good idea. Some plants to consider for these kind of environments are as follows:
- The boxwood shrub, Hemlock, White oak, White pine, Pygmy date palm, American holly, Ornamental cherry, Lady palm, and Dogwood are some of the plants that grow in the United States.
Getting in touch with professionals is the best course of action if you have any more inquiries concerning trees or your sewer system. They may assist you in determining which trees are suitable for specific locations and which trees should be avoided due to the possible damage they may bring after they have reached maturity. Also, bear in mind the material presented below, which gives a useful summary of this essential subject matter.
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.
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 shrubbery (such as cherry trees, dogwood trees, holly shrubs, azalea shrubs, and boxwood shrubs) in the area around your septic system, but make sure they are at least 10-15 feet away from your 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.
It is preferable to plant shallow-rooted plants and bushes in the vicinity of septic tank drain fields if you really must. 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.
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
It is advised that a layer of vegetation, such as a lawn, be placed over the drain field to help hold the dirt in place and boost the effectiveness of the system. Certain principles, on the other hand, should be followed in order to avoid costly and unpleasant situations. Perhaps the greatest piece of advise would be to keep trees and bushes out of the landscaping surrounding this location. The most important factor should be the best possible functioning of your septic system, but each homeowner will need to do a cost/benefit analysis of the plants they choose on an individual basis.
If you suspect that encroaching tree roots are causing damage to your system, please contact us at (951) 780-5922 as soon as possible.
Planting Trees With Shallow Roots Over Septic Systems
Do you have a septic tank in your home? In a recent blog post (Common Problem With Tree Roots), we described how the possibility for tree roots to grow into underground pipes, septic systems, sewage lines, or water lines is a major source of concern for house and business owners. As a result, except avoiding growing trees near your septic tank, what are some additional alternatives? Planting plants or trees with shallow roots over or near a septic tank is one option to consider. This might be a fantastic approach to create the landscape design you wish in a safe and limited manner with less restrictions.
Perennials and grasses with shallow root systems are typically the best choice for septic-safe planting solutions.
- Salvia perennialis, Montauk Daisy, Delphiniums, Coneflower, Red Hot Poker, and Bearded Iris are some of the flowers that grow in the garden.
When planning your landscaping around your septic tank, keep these shade-loving plants in mind:
- The Lenten Rose, the Bleeding Heart, the Bunchberry, the Hosta, the Leopard Plant, and the Jacob’s Ladder are all beautiful flowers.
The following plants and trees have shallow roots and may be planted atop sewage tanks, despite the fact that it is a bit riskier than planting ground covering grasses or perennials: The Japanese Maple Tree is a beautiful tree.
- Japanese Maple Trees, Holly Bushes, Dogwood Trees, Cherry Trees, Boxwood shrubs, Eastern Redbud Trees, Azalea Shrubs, and other ornamental trees and shrubs
Important to note is that while you may believe that growing vegetation you want to eat near or above your sewage system is a good idea (since it will grow quicker), it is not always safe to consume fruit or vegetables that have been grown over or near a septic system. There are also several trees you should avoid planting over or near your septic system (usually, trees should be placed at least 50 feet away from subsurface drainage/systems), including the following: The Elm Tree
- Japanese Willow Shrubs, Aspen Trees, Birch Trees, Beech Trees, Elm Trees, most Maple Trees, Ash Trees, and American Sweetgum Trees are some of the trees that grow in the area.
A huge tree’s aggressive roots may wreak havoc on the structures around it, including your home’s foundation, your driveway, your decks, and any subsurface drains or pipes on your property. It is critical to consider the location of trees in respect to these crucial structures in order to avoid costly damages. In the event that you are acquiring a new house, it is critical to have trees surrounding the property assessed for a variety of reasons, including their placement in proximity to key systems such as your septic tank.
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Trees for Septic Drain Fields
It is possible that planting the improper tree near the drain field of your septic system can result in clogged or broken drain lines. For planting near your leach field, smaller trees with non-aggressive root systems are the most suitable options. You may limit the influence of a tree’s root system on your leach field by placing it in an appropriate location or putting a root barrier around the tree.
Generally speaking, smaller trees with a restricted root system that does not actively seek water are the ideal trees to plant near leach fields since they require less water. The primary roots of most trees extend forth from the trunk to a distance that is about equal to the distance between the branches. There are several types of trees with root systems that are less likely to cause harm to your septic drain field, including crab apple, cherry, hemlock, dogwood, pine, and sourwood. Crab apple is one of the most common types of tree.
Even trees with small root systems have the potential to cause harm to your septic drain field if they are put too close to your leachate field.
Poplars, red maples, willows, silver maples, beeches, birches, and elms, among other large trees with active root systems, require at least 50 feet of distance between the base of the tree and the edge of the leach field. Smaller trees can be planted up to 20 feet from the border of your leach field’s perimeter. Planting trees closer to the end of the leach field that is farthest away from your house reduces the likelihood of tree roots breaking the septic lines if you need to plant a tree closer than the suggested spacing between trees.
Root barriers act as a physical constraint for tree roots, preventing them from creeping near your septic lines and causing damage. Root barriers are made out of solid or mesh barriers that are sunk to a depth of 2 to 3 feet to prevent roots from spreading. Using root barriers between your tree and the sewage treatment plant can help to prevent roots from harming the septic system.
It is possible that roots will develop around root barriers that do not entirely separate the area between the root zone of the tree and your septic drain field if they are not installed properly.
The drainage properties of your yard may be altered if you use impermeable barriers. If you cultivate edible plants near your leach field, such as fruit or nut bearing trees with low-hanging branches, you run the risk of their becoming infected with hazardous germs. When planting new trees, tilling the soil and mixing in organic compost on the side of the tree that faces away from the leach field can encourage new trees to grow roots on that side of the tree that faces away from the leach field.
Trees With Roots That Will Infiltrate Your Septic Tank
A septic system is made up of three parts: a main exit, a holding tank, and a drainage area, often known as a leach bed or leach field. The tank takes sewage from the building’s plumbing system, where it accumulates over a period of time until it is full enough to be discharged through an outlet onto the drainage field below. While the tank itself is typically resilient to tree root damage, the roots of some kinds of trees can represent a major danger to the proper functioning of the leach field, particularly in areas where the tank is located.
However, while contractors and arborists generally feel that it is unsafe to plant any tree too close to a septic system, several species have been identified as being particularly undesirable. Among the most hazardous trees to septic tanks and sewer systems are elms (Ulmus sp.), gum trees (Eucalyptus sp.), cypress trees (Cupressus), maple trees, particularly silver maple (Acer saccharinium), birches (Betula sp.), walnut trees (Juglans), poplars (Populus sp.), and willows (Salix sp. Apart from seeking for the nearest and most abundant supply of water, the roots of these trees are also drawn to the vast stores of nutrients present in the soil around a septic system, as well as the oxygen found in the drainage lines.
Planting species such as weeping willows, Monterey pines, and walnut trees at least 100 feet away from the system may prevent them from becoming a problem.
Tree Root Facts
The root system of any tree is responsible for the majority of the tree’s water and nutrient absorption from the soil. Not all tree roots develop in the same manner, and the manner in which they do so is influenced by a variety of variables, including the kind of tree, the environment in which it grows, the quantity of yearly rainfall received, and the availability of water. In order to find the most plentiful supply of water, tree roots naturally seek for the nearest and most abundant source of water.
Septic System Facts
Modern septic systems are likely to have little more than 2 feet of soil cover, which makes trees with extremely deep taproot systems, such as oaks (Quercus sp. ), less of a hazard because their main roots naturally travel in a fairly vertical direction straight down into the soil. One element that leads to the invasion of tree roots into drainage systems is the presence of numerous holes in the pipes used to build leach fields, which allow any form of root to gain access with relative ease. It doesn’t take long for the strain from spreading roots to build up to the point when the pipes shatter and split open, which is usually constructed of PVC plastic.
As a result of the continued growth of roots in and around the pipes, space in the gravel bed where filtered effluents were originally emptied has become limited. Finally, as the obstruction increases, sewage begins to back up into the tank, and eventually the tank itself ceases to drain at all.
Safe Tree List
Generally speaking, the larger the tree, the more complicated its root system will be, and the reverse is true as well. Certain smaller types of trees, such as the Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) and the Amur maple (Acer ginnala), may not represent a significant hazard to a septic system. These are two of numerous trees that grow to no more than 25 feet in height, and they include the Japanese maple and the Amur maple. The University of Tennessee Extension also offers flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) as an excellent alternative, as well as smoke tree (Cotinus spp.) and Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis), which are both low-growing species with limited root systems, according to the university.
It is normal for the roots of any type of plant to seek out and take advantage of the rich environment provided by the system when certain unanticipated situations exist.
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.
- 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.
- The use of just shallow-rooted flowers and grasses over the drain field will be emphasized by some sources.
- Another option is to choose plants that are drought tolerant so that the mound does not need to be watered as often.
- 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.
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.
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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.
- They promote root infiltration, soil compaction, and broken and damaged drainlines, and then wonder why they’re having trouble maintaining the septic tank.
- On Bowen Island in the British Columbia province of Canada, there is a landscape and garden designer by the name of Wynn Nielsen.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- “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.
- 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.
STEER CLEAR OF THESE
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.
GO AHEAD AND PLANT THESE
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.
CONSIDER LAND USAGE
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.
Planting On Your Septic Systems, Landscaping Ideas for Your Drain Field
In the event that you want to plant over your septic drain field, When it comes to landscaping around a septic tank, there are a few plants you may use safely, and then there are the ones you should avoid. Is it possible to grow plants over your septic drain field? If so, which plants are the most beneficial and which are the most detrimental? We will discuss landscaping and gardening ideas for septic tank owners in this post, which is written in English and Spanish.
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.
- 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.
- What is the operation of a septic drain field?
- 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.
- So, how exactly does a septic system function?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Ideally, you want to choose plants that will suit the landscaping needs of your house or company while also protecting the drain field from deep-rooted vegetation or weather risks as much as possible. Learn about a plant’s rooting tendencies and water requirements in order to determine whether or not it is suitable for use in a drain field. Try to choose herbs with shallow roots that are already established in your area or that have been acclimated to the average rainfall levels in your area. Grasses and perennial flowers that don’t require a lot of upkeep are ideal for this situation. Choosing vegetation that is both shallow-rooted and drought-tolerant will help you to decrease your effort to its bare minimum. Irrigation should be minimal, if at all, for these types of plants.
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?
Because of the wastewater that seeps into the soil through the drain field pipes, the soil can become extremely wet and nutrient rich. The thought of using this by planting a fruit or vegetable garden over a drain field may seem like a good idea at first glance. Unfortunately, this is not encouraged – especially when it comes to creeping plants and root crops like turnips. Due to the fact that the vegetation will be in close contact with soil that is likely to be contaminated with disease-causing organisms such as viruses and bacteria, this is the case.
However, leafy crops that grow near to the ground are also at danger of contamination because irrigation water that has spilled onto the foliage might contaminate the foliage.
In general, the higher the crop is in height, the smaller the chance of contamination is to be found.
It is quite likely that if you have a water softener in your home, your water softening system is adding salt to your septic system every time it regenerates, which is harmful to your health.
In addition, depending on your septic system, the wastewater that ends up in your drain field may still include residue from home chemicals such as laundry detergent, which can be harmful.
Furthermore, gardening tasks such as ploughing, deep digging, rototilling, and fence post placement must be included in.
Raised garden beds, on the other hand, can have a substantial impact on the usual evaporation rate of wastewater from the soil.
Herbaceous plants such as annuals, perennials (including bulbs), and decorative grasses will be the best choices for your septic drain field.
In a previous section, we discussed the advantages of shallow-rooted herbaceous plants over alternative deep-rooted and woody-rooted options.
- 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.
- Make sure that there is no foot traffic on the septic drain field in order to limit the likelihood of damage occurring. Choose low-maintenance plants that don’t require a lot of attention or mowing
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.