Planting near a septic system is problematic for many gardeners. It is important home gardeners understand how septic works, how close to the system leach field and what you can safely plant and what types of plants to grow. With a little homework, you can safely incorporate your septic leach field into your overall garden design with good results.
When designing your home garden, LeekGarden recommends using living plants to create divisions and boundaries. This is especially useful to help mark out the area around septic drain fields and mark where it is safe to garden plants and trees that might harm the septic system.
How Septic Systems Work
Your home septic system collects and holds waste water from bathrooms, sinks and washing machines inside a large fiberglass or concrete box. Inside the tank, heavy waste and soil sinks down to the bottom while soapy or oily residues rise to the top of the tank.
Live bacteria inside the tank break down the wastes and built-in baffles cause this sludge to remain inside the tank while the water is drained out into a leach field. Percolating through the soil removes impurities from the wastewater as it slowly seeps down to become groundwater. Penn State University Extension service recommends getting the sludge pumped out of most family home septic tanks every 2-3 years as the best way for managing liquid levels and preventing overflow.
Explore for How a Septic System Works the video as below.
How Close is Safe?
Now you understand what not to plant near or on a septic drain field, it is time to talk about why it is a great idea to plant things there. What to plant may be a problem when you realize just how many attractive types of plants will be suited to this location. Tall grasses like Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass prevent erosion and suck up a lot of the excess moisture from the field.
There are many beautiful groundcover plants and perennials that add curb appeal to the lot without damaging the septic system. Try planting Montauk daisies, coneflowers or daylilies. Bachelor buttons and irises will add lots of color to your landscaping design and require low maintenance. Learn more about what grows best in and on septic drain fields in your area. Your local Extension Service or full-service nursery will be happy to help with your design and plant choices.
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