Planting on a septic tank or drain field?

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Planting on a septic tank or drain field?

What can be planted over a septic tank and drain field? This is a common question frequently asked by people that live in rural areas of the country with on-site septic systems.

This article covers some general basic rules for planting on a drain field. Planting vegetation over a septic tank and drain field should be well thought out and given much consideration. Planting the wrong type of trees, shrubbery or ground cover can cause serious irreversible damage to your septic tank and drain field leach lines. We will discuss the types of foliage safe to plant over a septic system as well as the safety concerns of planting fruit trees or a vegetable garden over a septic tank and drain field. We will briefly touch on the types of plants and trees that may or should never be planted on or near a system.

Planting on a drain field should be limited to native weeds, grass and flowers. Always consider the root depth with any variety you intend to plant on a drain field. Ensure the plant has a shallow root system that won’t grow down into the leach bed system clogging up drain field lines causing damage. Most shallow root base plants will be ok to plant on a drain field.

Planting eatable fruit trees and vegetables over a septic tank and drain field is not a good idea. Research has shown that trace amounts of toxic bacteria and contamination found in raw sewage has been discovered in these same eatable fruits and vegetables grown over septic systems. The effluent when given the opportunity will drain into the soil contaminating the root base of vegetable garden variety plant. Research has shown that tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumber just to name a few were affected by contaminates originating from the septic system.

As a rule of thumb, trees should never be planted in the facility of your septic tank or drain field. The cost of a new drain field can run into thousands of dollars in repair or replacement costs. Larger trees should be at least 60 feet from any part of the septic system.

Before planting on a septic tank or a drain field, consider spreading a load of top soil over the septic system area. This will help the system drain better in times of heavy rains and spring thaw.

Remember, cutting down a beautiful tree that is intruding into a drain field may be more practical then replacing a septic tank and drain field. Consider the options, speak with your local septic inspector and consider the options.

By: Bradley Skierkowski