PHOTO of an Edmonton British Columbia septic field in a low wet area, close to a small lake, and with trees in the field area - all bad ideas Guide to Planting Over Septic System Components

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Guidelines for Planting Over Septic Systems and Septic Fields: Homeowner Guide to Planting of Trees, Shrubs, Gardens, Grasses, Ground covers over the Septic Tank, Drainfield or Leachfield. This article explains the types of plants that should or should not be planted over or near septic fields or other septic system components.

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Planting Guidelines for Septic Drainfields, Mounds, Raised Beds, Septic Tanks and other Septic Components

Photo of flower planting over a septic tank cover.

This is a guide for homeowners who are planting trees, shrubs, gardens, ground cover, or other plants near a septic system and who need to know that can be planted near or over septic system components like the septic tank, distribution box, and drain field or soil absorption system.

Planting the wrong things or in the wrong places can lead to the need for expensive septic system repairs.

Planting trees, shrubs, and even some ground covers over septic system components are causes of septic system failure in the drain field, leach field, seepage bed, or similar components.

Planting fruit trees, or vegetables (or anything else edible) over the septic drainfield might produce food that is unsafe to eat:

An explanation of greener or more brown grass over a septic tank or drainfield is

Guide to planting grasses or flowers over septic drain fields or leaching beds

Photo of typical grass (needing mowing) over a septic system.Many people have written to ask what can be planted over a septic field. Grasses, weeds, flower are OK: The best answer is grass or native grasses and weeds.

Flowers are ok so long as they are not varieties which send down deep roots. In the photograph above these relatively shallow-rooted flowers were set around a septic tank cleanout cover.

They won't cause any damage to the system. But when planning your planting arrangement for flowers over a septic tank, remember that if you plant valuable flowers too close to the access cover to a septic tank or distribution box, those plants may be damaged or destroyed when you have to excavate to open the tank or D-box cover.

Basically, any shallow-rooting planting will be fine to plant over the surface of or near septic tanks, distribution boxes, or septic drainfields.

The photograph abve shows typical grass and a few native wildflowers and dandelions growing in a lawn over a septic system drainfield at a Poughkeepsie New York home.

These plants are not likely to be harmful to the system, they stabilize the soils in the area, and they do not interfere with soil transpiration or evaporation.

Their roots are relatively shallow so these plants are not likely to invade the septic drainfield piping. Grass and native wildflowers are fine over the septic tank or drainfield, and also they are fine over septic mound systems.

Grasses Recommended as Suitable for Planting Over / Near Evaporation-Transpiration Septic Systems

The following table of native (to New Zealand) or introduced species of grasses lists species that are considered suitable for planting over an evapo-transpiration system and should be acceptable over a mound system or conventional drainfield as well. Note that other native species local to your area might also be suitable. [3]

Table of Grasses Suitable for Planting Over / Near Evaporation-Transpiration Septic Systems [3]

Common Name Botanical Name Comments
Hooksedge Uncinia Unciniata  
Jointed twig sedge Baumea Articulata Carex Comans
Longwood tussock Carex Comans  
Oioi Leptocarpus Similis  
Pukio Carex Secta  
Toetoe Cortaderia Fulvida use native species to your area, not invasive pampas grass or other invasive species


Original source: "Looking after your household sewerage system," New Plymouth District Council, Taranaki NZ, [3]

Separately at Trees or Shrubs we provide a similar table of suitable trees or shrubs that can be planted near or in some cases on soakaway beds, drainfields, evapo-transpiration systems. .

Using a Roto Rooter to Remove Roots from Sewer Lines and Septic Systems

Power augers or Roto Rooters™ for plumbing drains can be an effective way to remove a blockage or clog in a drain line.

But if your plumber shows you a tangle of roots when s/he pulls the augur back up the drain line, you should expect that additional repairs will be needed soon.

Even if you pull roots out of the blocked pipe section, the fact that they were in there means a tree, shrub, or other plant has invaded the area and its roots remain outside the just-un-clogged pipe. You can count on the roots re-invading the pipe (and getting at those nutrients) soon. So de-rooting a clogged drain line is a temporary fix.


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