Your septic system is a complex underground network of hearty boxes and pipes that manage your household wastewater. The water that leaves your toilets, showers, and kitchen sink travels a long way to be naturally treated by the bacteria that lives inside your septic tank. Water first ends up in the septic tank to be clarified via a slow process whereby bacteria naturally breakdown the waste matter present in the water. During this time, solids sink to the bottom while fat, oil, and grease (FOG) that were not caught by your grease traps float to the top. Eventually, the clear effluent makes its way to the leach field or drain field.
Each septic drain field is a system of perforated pipes that lays over a bed of gravel. This is where the effluent (clarified water) drains in order to complete the last treatment phase. An underground septic system takes up much space that is hard to grasp from above ground. It’s not difficult to see why it’s important to avoid planting large trees nearby, as the roots can seriously damage the delicate pipe system. This doesn’t mean that you have to have a plain yard you just have to protect the drain field.
Safe Plants for Your Septic System
The area around your septic system is actually quite healthy for plant life, but the trick is knowing what plants to plant. Underground septic systems provide extra moisture and nutrients for above-ground plant life. Be sure to find shallow-rooted plants that won’t disrupt the septic system as they grow. Roots are a septic system’s worst nightmare.
Perennials like wildflowers and small ornamental grasses are ideal for planting over septic systems. Perennials is a broad term for flowers that live longer than 2 years. It’s also used to distinguish between such flowers and non-woody plants from trees and shrubs, which are technically also perennials since they can live for many years.
Several kinds of herbs, fruit and vegetables are perennial in nature, but debate continues as to whether or not it is healthy or wise to grow edible plants over a septic drain field.
When planting trees and shrubs around your drain field, consider what the tree will look like at full maturity, and then add 20 feet to that height. This is the distance you should keep it away from the drain field. Trees and shrubs have roots that can wreak havoc on the perforated pipes in the drain field that can lead to thousands of dollars in repairs.
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. Avoid shallow and invasive roots from trees like the Australian acacia, ash, beech, birch, cypress, elm, eucalyptus, maple, mesquite, mulberry, pepper, poplar, sycamore trees and willow trees.
Regardless of what plants you have around your septic system, you’ll always have to perform routine check-ups to be sure your system is running smoothly. To make the most of your system, try Septic Maxx, a monthly additive that boosts the performance of the good bacteria in your tank. Click here to find out about a free trial offer.