When properly cared for and maintained, your septic system can give you decades of service. Septic tanks and drain fields are generally pretty well able to take care of themselves, as long as you get your septic tanks pumped every few years and avoid common landscaping mistakes that can damage a drain field over time.
When it comes to landscaping near septic tanks and drain fields, here are some major mistakes to avoid:
- Planting trees and bushes: Most trees and bushes have roots that are naturally attracted to the wet environment created by your septic system. Trees and bushes should generally be kept at least 9 meters away from the periphery of your drain field.
- Using the area as a parking area: It can be tempting to use your drain field as a parking area, but the weight of your car can actually break pipes and compact the soil, preventing properly draining and filtering from happening.
- Running heavy machinery over the area: Just like cars don’t belong on your drain field, even large mowers and other heavy machinery can damage the hidden network below.
- Using the area agriculturally: Your septic drain field is not a good place to grow veggies or to allow goats, horses, or cattle to graze.
As you are considering landscaping in the area near your septic tanks and drain fields, consider future growth very carefully. Grass is an excellent choice to cover the ground in this area, as well as smaller drought-resistant plants that won’t require additional watering. There are also certain types of trees that can be more safely planted near your system – including cherry, dogwood, crabapple, pine, redbud, azalea, and boxwood. While these still shouldn’t be planted on your drain field, their roots tend to grow down instead of out, and they are a better choice for planting in the nearby areas.