Whether you prefer planted flower beds to plain expanses of grass or whether you have an unsightly mound over your septic leach field that you don't want to see every day, landscaping on and around your septic system may seem like an attractive option. And while there are some plants you should definitely avoid, you can landscape above the system if you're careful.
For example, the absolute best plants for directly on top of your leach field are short, shallow-rooted low-maintenance grasses. However, you can surround the leach field with more vertical, textured and brightly colored plants. Just keep an eye out for these four undesirable plant characteristics to avoid when planting near your septic system.
1. Deep, Water-Loving Roots
Avoid plants that love water or that have deep roots. This is the number one rule when you're shopping for septic system landscaping plants. Normally, when planning your landscaping, you'd look for plants that will thrive where they're placed, and the leach field is a water-rich area, right?
However, plants that love water (as well as those that have deep roots) are much more likely to send roots down to invade your septic system. They can infiltrate your pipes and cause leaks, bursting, blockages, and other types of damage.
Instead, look for hardy plants that are drought-tolerant but that aren't particularly susceptible to rot. You don't want to have to replace half of your landscaping every time the area becomes saturated.
2. Food Production
If you're the type of homeowner who's interested in self-sufficiency (which is quite likely if you have a septic system), you may think that planting food-producing plants in your landscaping is a great plan. And maybe it is, as long as you don't place edible or food-producing plants above any part of the septic system.
This goes for fruit trees and bushes, vegetable plants, herb plants, and even edible flowers that you might want a nibble of later on.
3. Messy or High-Maintenance Behavior
Another aspect of minimizing the maintenance of your septic leach field is choosing plants that don't need much work. If you frame the area with shrubs that need lots of care or drop piles of flowers, seedpods, leaves, and twigs on the leach field, you'll end up needing to rake piles of debris from the area every now and then.
You want to avoid this because traffic over the leach field can compact the soil, making the system work less effectively and leaving it more susceptible to damage. So the less often you walk on your leach field, the better. Messy plants are fine if they're planted a bit farther away so they don't require you to walk on your septic system.
4. High Cost and Permanency
Don't plant your favorite rare specimens in this area. The same goes for large, thicket-forming shrubs. A thorny thicket may be a great way to keep an unsightly septic mound out of sight and out of mind, but it's not so great for allowing maintenance personnel to access the system.
The fact is, whatever landscaping you place in the septic area may need to be temporarily removed or, in some cases, replaced when your septic system needs maintenance or repairs. So don't use anything that the septic contractor will need a magic sword to chop through, and don't use anything that you'd have to take out another mortgage to replace.
Avoiding these four plant characteristics in your septic system plantings will help you evade problems further down the line. Whether you're looking for a septic cleaning or inspection or more advice on home maintenance, Hines Septic is here for you. Give us a call today to discuss your septic system and its needs, and you can receive a free estimate.