You shouldn’t plant any trees or large shrubs within 10m of your septic tank or drainage field. The roots will instinctively grow towards your septic tank and drainage field which are abundant sources of water. As tree roots are strong, they can break through the concrete of your tank or the pipes in your drain field and create an expensive problem.
This doesn’t mean the area around your wastewater system needs to be a barren wasteland, you still have some options for greenery. Read on to find out what you should avoid and what you can plant safely.
What to avoid
Plants you plan on eating
You should not plant anything you intend to eat within 5m of your wastewater system. As the purpose of your system is to treat wastewater, the soil around your system contains bacteria which should not be consumed.
A general rule of thumb is that a tree’s root system spreads as wide as the tree is tall. If you plant a tree which can grow to 5m, you can expect its roots to grow out to a distance of 5m from the base of the tree. As the roots of large trees spread they’re going to gravitate towards the water in your system. These roots are strong and can cause serious damage to your tank and pipes.
What to plant
Grass is the safest option for greenery around your system. You can grow grass over your tank and your drain field without any worries. The roots are shallow and don’t pose any threat of damaging your system.
Flowers have short roots systems and are safe to plant over your septic drain field as they will actually help to prevent soil erosion.
- Cherry Pie or Heliotrope
- Indigo Spires or Salvia
- Elephants Ear
- Coral Bells or Heuchera
- Purple Coneflower
Small, drought-resistant shrubs
Smaller shrubs that are accustomed to surviving without abundant water won’t have far-reaching root systems and are safe to plant around your system.
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