Many landscape plants and trees are not good neighbors to septic tanks and septic drain fields.
Do you know what to plant and what not to plant around your septic system?
Lentz Septic Tank Service takes septic system maintenance serious. We believe that most major septic tank repair issues could be prevented by understanding how the septic system works, what kinds of things cause damage, when to have regular maintenance performed, and what signs to watch for that can give you ample warning that something may become a serious problem. Landscaping with damaging plants around the septic system is a common and very preventable septic challenge. Here are some helpful tips that may save you thousands on landscaping and septic tank repair.
Certain trees will wreak havoc on your septic system! Try to avoid planting ANY tree or large shrub within 30-40 feet (minimum) of the septic drainfield. Even further for the following trees that can cause major damage to septic systems:
- Red Maple (Acer rubrum spp.)
- Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)
- Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora spp.)
- Water Oak (Quercus nigra)
- Willow (Salix – any variety)
- Sycamore (Platanus spp.)
- River Birch (Betula nigra – and all other Birch trees)
Other trees that are not as popular in our area that should be avoided in the septic drainfield area include: Ash, Beech, Elm, Cypress and Mulberry. Without question, the worst tree that the Lentz Septic technicians see damage from is Maple, especially the faster growing varieties like Autumn Blaze. Trees that mature at a smaller size, like Dogwood, Japanese Maple and Cherry trees are not as likely to be invasive to your septic system, and may be planted as close as 30 feet from the drainfield. Our technicians have seen issues with Holly and Magnolia trees in the septic tank and drainlines; however, some articles will tell you that they are not likely to cause a septic problem.
Shrubs and landscape plants should definitely NOT be planted on top of, or less than two feet from the septic tank, as the septic tank pumpers will need to access your septic tank on a regular basis to clean it out and check the function of the system. It is good practice to only plant shallow rooted groundcover over the septic drainfield. The most common groundcover is lawn grass (Fescue, Bermuda, Centipede, Zoysia, KY Bluegrass, etc.), but other shallow-rooted groundcover may be used as effectively: mondo grass, liriope, pachysandra, vinca minor, phlox/thrift, and daylilies.
Irrigation lines should never be installed within the septic drainfield or over the septic tank. Irrigation heads may be strategically placed on the outer edges of the drainfield to irrigate into the drainfield. Although irrigation lines themselves and certain landscape plants likely won’t be the cause of septic tank repair needs, if any work should ever need to be completed on the septic drainlines, the added challenge of working around landscape plants and irrigation lines will add a significant expense to the repair cost.
If you don’t know where your septic drainfield and septic tank is located, you may contact your local Environmental Health Department to access the diagram located on the septic permit. Visit Lentzseptic.com/inspections for contact details in Iredell and surrounding counties. Click here to access the septic records that have been digitalized in Iredell County. Some older septic systems are not available at the Health Department, but may be located by septic inspection or septic locating service provider like Lentz Wastewater Management.
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