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Landscaping Do’s and Don’ts with a Septic


A beautiful yard. Who doesn’t want that? A backed-up, broken-down septic system…that’s another story. Not all avid landscapers and gardeners realize that their beautiful work could be detrimental to their septic system. Here is a helpful guide of do’s and don’ts to keep your septic safe while your yard takes the spotlight.


Let’s start off with a list of things you can and should do when landscaping your septic. First, consider planting grass or keeping existing vegetation over and around the drain field. This will hold the soil in place and serve as a layer of protection for your system. Grass and native vegetation will also help control excess moisture, keeping the drain field from becoming over-saturated.

Also, if you are considering adding plants, shrubbery, or trees to your yard, do be sure that they are shallow-rooted. This will prevent roots from disturbing the system. If you plan on planting trees or bushes, be sure to place them about 20 feet away from your septic system. This ensures that their roots will not infiltrate the system. The further you can plant them from the drain field the better! If you need ideas about what to plant, check out our blog on 5 septic-friendly plants.

Finally, always direct excess water away from your septic system. If you are draining a pool or emptying bird baths and sitting water, do so away from the drain field to not oversaturate the area. Additionally, consider using drip irrigation instead of a normal hose or sprinkler. This helps deliver water slowly to plants’ roots and minimizes the amount of water used. This will help with preventing over-saturation and keep your septic at a safe moisture level.


There are also several practices to avoid when it comes to landscaping with a septic system. To start, don’t plant a vegetable garden over a drain field. The bacteria from your septic system will be used as nutrients for your food and nobody wants that. Simply put, your fresh vegetables will be contaminated with your own wastewater if you plant them over or too close to your septic.

Additionally, never put gravel over the drain field, no matter how well it matches your outdoor aesthetic. The sheer weight of the gravel is too much for the drain field and may cause harmful compaction. Avoid other heavy objects such as decks, sheds, heavy stone walkways, and barns as these will have the same effect.

There are also certain plants you don’t want to place near your septic system or drain field. Don’t use water-loving plants. These plants will root deeper and deeper to find the moisture around your septic system and will more than likely infiltrate and cause problems that result in expensive repairs. As previously mentioned, you can plant trees if you have a septic as long as they are planted at a safe distance. However, there are some trees we advise against planting. Some examples included Elm, Poplar, Magnolia, Birch, Bamboo, and Willow due to their deep, woody, persistent roots.

Gardening and landscaping should be an enjoyable experience. We want to ensure that you can make the most of your property while also avoiding costly septic issues. This guide can help you do just that! If you still have questions about landscaping while also maintaining a fully functioning septic, don’t hesitate to call us at (603) 945-7355 or contact us here.

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