Landscaping Over a Septic Drain Field Part II - What NOT to Plant

Septic drain fields present various limitations to landscapers seeking to change that unseemly grass plot into an appealing, thriving showpiece. These constraints, unfortunately, rule out several landscaping options. It is important to understand how to preserve the functionality of your septic system while making it look as lovely as possible.

Part I of this series discussed what types of plants best fit the limitations of a septic drain field. This next installment discusses the types of vegetation to keep far away from your leach field.

Why Not Plant a Vegetable Garden?

The large, open expanse of your septic drain field might seem like an ideal spot for a productive vegetable garden. While the impulse is commendable, there are some issues with this plan. Whether or not you should plant a vegetable garden over your septic leach field depends on how well your soil filters the bacterial contaminants that seep from your drainage pipes. Regardless of your soil’s filtering aptitude, many experts recommend that you never plant root vegetables over your drainfield. The potential for contamination isn’t worth the gamble.

Any Exceptions to the “Don’t Plant Trees” rule?

When considering what to plant directly over the drainfield, there are no exceptions to this rule. However, if your landscape project extends beyond the leach field, you do need to understand how close how close to the drainfield your surrounding trees can approach.

Never plant trees with invasive root systems anywhere near the leach field. In fact, any trees with invasive roots should be kept at a minimum of 50 feet away from your system Ornamental types of trees can be planted closer to the drainfield, but they should be kept at a distance. In general, keep them 20 feet away. However, a tree should never be planted any closer to a drainfield than its full, expected height at maturity. If your tree will grow to be 25 feet tall, keep it 25 feet from your drainfield.

Regardless of these limitations, there are lots of creative methods landscapers can use to disguise a drainfield. Be sure to check back with our blog for the next installment in our landscaping series!