How Far Away From A Septic Tank To Grow Fruit? (Correct answer)

Inspectapedia recommends planting trees at least as far away from a septic system as the maximum height of the mature tree. However, the nutrients from the septic leakage could influence tree roots to grow farther than you’d expect. To get around this, add 25 percent more distance.

How far should a garden be from a septic tank?

  • 4/5 (1,378 Views. 34 Votes) According to the University of California Small Farm Program, fruits and vegetables should be planted at least 10 feet from a septic system or leach field to avoid bacterial contamination. Click to see full answer

How close to a septic tank can I plant vegetables?

While there are no specific distance mandates on vegetable gardens and septic fields, staying 10 to 20 feet outside the perimeter of your septic system’s drainage field is a safe bet for clean veggies and an effective septic system.

What is the minimum safe distance from the septic tank?

At least 15m from the nearest water supply. This is a minimum and should be more if the ground is rocky and fissures could take the outflow further. It should be at least 3m from the nearest building. Avoid areas where rainwater would stand or flow over the tank or vehicles could drive over it.

How close can you plant next to a septic field?

These estimates should be considered a bare minimum, and to reduce the risk, the trees should be planted even further away from the drain field. Shrubs with less aggressive root systems should never be planted any closer than 10 feet and small less aggressive trees no closer than 20 feet from the drain field.

Can you plant near septic tank?

Perennials and grasses (including ornamental grasses) work best around your septic tank and drain field. Their shallow root systems are less likely to invade the underground system and cause it damage. For the same reason, small, non-woody ground covers are a good choice.

Can you grow a garden on top of a septic field?

The most important reason you should not install a vegetable garden on top of, or right next to, a septic system disposal field is because the plants can become contaminated by wastewater that has not yet been renovated by the field. Plants on disposal fields can absorb wastewater pathogens.

Can I grow a garden over a septic field?

Planting over a septic leach field (drain field) is possible if it is done with care. Growing shallow-rooted plants over the drainage area is recommended because they help remove excess moisture and nutrients from the soil and reduce erosion.

Can you build a deck over a septic tank?

You should never build a deck over a septic field; doing so will prevent the natural draining and dissipation of the effluent. This can ruin the septic system, not to mention releasing foul smells into the air all around your deck. The dissipating effluent can also rot the deck from underneath.

How far down is a leach field?

A typical drainfield trench is 18 to 30 inches in depth, with a maximum soil cover over the disposal field of 36 inches.

How far is distribution box from septic tank?

The D-box is normally not very deep, often between 6″ and two feet to the top of the box. You may also see a pattern of parallel depressions, typically about 5 feet apart, that mark the individual drainfield leach lines. The D-box will at or near end of the drainfield area that is closest to the septic tank.

What can you not plant near a septic tank?

You definitely shouldn’t plant large shrubbery or trees anywhere near your septic tank. Any trees planted in your yard should be at least as far away from the septic tank as the tree is tall. For example, a 20-foot-tall tree should be planted at least 20 feet away from the septic tank.

Can you plant arborvitae near septic tank?

A common hedging plant for narrow spaces is pyramidal arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Fastigiata,’ or its greener cultivar ‘Emerald Green’). From my observation, it forms a dense root mass that would run into the septic field unless contained, but could provide a decent screen with a confined root run.

Can you grow grass over septic tank?

Grass Benefits Grass planted over a septic drain field prevents soil erosion and improves the exchange of oxygen and the removal of soil moisture. Turfgrass is ideal for planting over a septic drain field because its roots aren’t likely to clog or damage the drain lines.

What kind of trees can you plant near a septic tank?

Here are some example of trees and shrubs with shallow root systems that are safe to plant near your septic system:

  • Japanese Maple Trees.
  • Holly Shrubs.
  • Dogwood Trees.
  • Cherry Trees.
  • Boxwood Shrubs.
  • Eastern Redbud Trees.
  • Azalea Shrubs.

How far from a leach field should a garden be?

Measure 10 feet from the outer perimeter of the leach field. Mark the garden’s borders with stakes. According to the University of California Small Farm Program, fruits and vegetables should be planted at least 10 feet from a septic system or leach field to avoid bacterial contamination.

How far can you plant fruit trees from a septic tank?

Gina Garboon is a model and actress. 1st of July, 2019 My house and garden became infested with tiny gnats, which decimated my fuchsia plant and flew all over the place. I’ve tried everything I’ve read on the internet – soap and oil dishes, sand at the bottom of the tub, etc. More information may be found here. 61Refer to the Answers

Marigolds growing! Should I pinch the buds?

Gina Garboon is a model and actress who was born in the United Kingdom. The first day of July in the year 2019. Small gnats found their way into my home and garden, decimating my fuchsia plant and flying all around. Soap and oil dishes, sand at the bottom of the tub. I’ve tried everything I’ve read about on the internet! Obtain further information 61Refer to the Solutions

What’s the best flower/plant to grow in Texas?

Susanon 21st of March, 2017 I understand that people’s viewpoints differ, but what is your point of view?! Rosemary plants have proven to be really successful for me. Throughout the year, there is plenty of green. 30 Answers may be found here.

How to propagate succulents?

Joyceon Dec 16, 2018 0 comments I’m looking for someone who can explain me how to grow succulents. I absolutely adore my succulents, and I recently discovered that I can propagate new succulents from the old ones. That is INCREDIBLY amazing! J. More information may be found here. 26 Answers may be found here.

How to care for a dogwood tree?

Check out the answers posted by Ajc43097020 on June 22, 2019.

How far from the house can I plant a Yoshino cherry tree?

Raq24346432on July 21, 20185See the answers to this question

Does anyone know what tree this is?

Terese Connolly Connolly Connolly Connolly Connolly Connolly Connolly Connolly Con Friday, November 6th, 2018 I’m curious as to what sort of tree this is. 34Refer to the Answers

Q: How far away from my septic tank should trees be located?

I am having my septic tank moved to the side of my house where I have fruit trees and other plants, and I am quite excited about it. Can you tell me how far away these trees should be planted from my septic tank? A: There is a plethora of material available on the internet about the topic of the distance between trees and septic systems. I’ve seen distances as little as 20 feet (at the University of Minnesota) and as long as 100 feet (at the University of Minnesota) (North Carolina State University).

  1. It is crucial to note that tree roots can develop two to three times the distance between the drip line and the trunk.
  2. Let’s imagine one of the fruit tree limbs was ten feet in length, which is not out of the ordinary for fruit tree branches.
  3. Those roots have the potential to interfere with the natural processes of the septic tank and cause significant harm.
  4. If you need to relocate the fruit trees, do so and then replant them in a new location.
  5. When you move them, try to get as much of the root ball as you possibly can.

It is not necessary to alter the new hole where the tree will be planted; instead, it is sufficient to keep the trees properly hydrated. It is advisable to plant them during the dormant season to ensure the health of the tree and the production of future fruit. 0

planting fruit trees near septic tank #447548

Asked on April 13, 2018, 3:03 a.m. by a reader EDTWe intend to plant a few apple trees in our backyard in the near future. In our yard, we have a septic tank, and the soil is mostly made up of decaying granite (not really soil at all – more like gravel). The tree planters are bringing in some dirt to use for the plants’ roots to grow in. How far away from the septic tank should the apple trees be planted in order to avoid any contamination of the fruit? This is really helpful because our house is over 100 years old and we have no idea how extensive the leach field is.

Expert Response

What a great question! And, sadly, I am unable to provide you with a particular response. Trees and septic systems are particularly problematic because the roots of the trees can grow into the system and cause damage. The required distance from the system is influenced by the size of the tree when it matures and the root growth habits of the tree. In addition to knowing what type of apple tree you want to plant and how to identify the rootstock (most fruiting trees have been grafted onto the root system of another species of tree in order to be hardier), it is necessary to understand the growth habits of the rootstock.

Poplar, maple, willow, and elm are examples of trees that are known to seek for water reservoirs and should be placed at least 50 feet away from the mound.” It is possible that your system does not have a “mound,” as some systems are completely buried.

See also:  How A Septic Tank/Works?

I propose that you put them as far away from your home as practically feasible; it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Septic System and Fruit Trees #449374

In response to your question on April 24, 2018, 2:32 PM EDTI attempted to locate the information on the website but was unable. If an apple tree is being planted in a yard with a mound septic system, are there any special planting requirements that should be followed? What is the maximum distance that is deemed safe? Thank you very much. Chisago County is located in the state of Minnesota. Minnesota

Expert Response

Thank you for submitting your inquiry. It appears like you are asking two questions at the same time: Will an apple tree hurt the septic system, and will apples grown in a yard with a septic system be safe to eat? Will an apple tree harm the septic system? Despite the fact that there is definitive information available about growing trees and septic systems, I have been unable to locate any specific guidelines for growing apple or other fruit trees in a yard that contains a septic field, other than the recommendation that any tree be planted at least 20 feet away from the edge of the mound and even further away is recommended to avoid adverse effects on the septic system’s function.

  • There have been a few other queries posted to this group in the past that are similar to yours.
  • The danger of hazardous germs being deposited on fruits is something that should be taken into account, in my opinion.
  • You will have to make a decision, but it seems prudent to grow a fruit tree as far away from the septic mound as feasible.
  • Here’s an example of a prior response: While the bacteria would not be absorbed by the trees’ roots, there are numerous issues that may occur as a result of planting fruit trees near a drain field.
  • coli and fecal coliforms are present in the waste when it is released from the septic tank during the expulsion process.
  • However, there may be excessive amounts of these bacteria in the soil that are above and above what would be considered typical.
  • In addition to drowning the trees, excess water on the surface of the soil may evaporate instead of draining away from the site, resulting in an abundance of microorganisms on the soil surface.
  • If the fruit becomes infected, it must be carefully cleaned or thrown away to avoid consuming any of the bacteria that have been introduced.
  • Growing edible crops over drain fields is definitely a good idea, but it’s just a matter of time before something goes wrong and the fruit becomes tainted with disease.

It’s something that can be prevented entirely by refraining from planting edible crops on drain field land in the first place. Here is a link to our publication on landscaping around a septic tank:

How Far Can I Plant My Vegetable Garden From My Septic Lines?

Make sure you have an accurate schematic of your home’s septic system before you start digging in your backyard for a vegetable garden. Septic field contamination or damage might happen from planting a vegetable garden on top of a septic field, which is a costly and vital aspect of your home’s infrastructure. When it comes to vegetable gardens and septic fields, there are no set distance requirements. However, keeping your vegetable garden 10 to 20 feet beyond the boundary of your sewage system’s drainage field is a good bet for clean vegetables and an efficient septic system.

Get the Dirt on Septic Systems

The majority of septic systems are comprised of an underground tank that collects solids and perforated drainage pipes – generally four – that are placed from six to eighteen inches deep in gravel-filled trenches to aid in the disbursement of wastewater into the soil. The trenches can be 18 to 36 inches wide, 8 to 10 feet apart, and up to 100 feet long. They can also be 18 to 36 inches deep. The number and length of these depend on the number of people who live in your household. The depth of the water might vary depending on the geology and terrain of the area.

Waste Not, Want Not

Agricultural waste that seeps into the soil in your drainage field has the potential to be drawn up into the roots of vegetable crops. Among the contaminants are infections that are transmitted through humans, such as viruses and bacteria such as E. coli, which you may consume. When it comes to root crops and low-growing greens, transfer is particularly dangerous since dirt can get on the leaves and spray up after watering or raining.

Digging In

In order to place plants and add soil amendments into vegetable gardens, constant foot movement, digging, and rototilling are required, all of which might cause disturbance to the septic field and potentially damage the pipes. Some vegetable plants have roots that can reach into drainage trenches, particularly those that are less than 1 foot below the soil surface, and cause the pipes to become clogged and ineffective.

Reducing Danger

You can lessen the likelihood of contamination when you absolutely must plant a few vegetables and do not have access to any other open soil, as described below. Plant vegetables that bear their fruit above ground and have a lower risk of contamination from direct soil contact – plants such as pole beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), cucumbers (Cucumis sativus), peas (Pisum sativum), and tomatoes (Lycopersicum esculentum) that can be trained to a trellis or stake have a lower risk of contamination from soil contact.

A covering of mulch prevents damp soil from splashing up onto plants and causing them to wilt.

Wearing gloves in the garden and properly cleaning all veggies with a soft-bristle brush under running water are both recommended procedures for every vegetable gardener, regardless of experience level.

How to Plant a Garden in Relation to a Septic System Drain Field

You can limit the likelihood of contamination when you really must plant a few vegetables and do not have access to any other open soil. Plant vegetables that bear their fruit above ground and have a lower risk of contamination from direct soil contact – plants such as pole beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), cucumbers (Cucumis sativus), peas (Pisum sativum), and tomatoes (Lycopersicum esculentum) that can be trained to a trellis or stake have a lower risk of contamination. Avoid eating leafy greens that are near to the ground or root vegetables that are grown in the soil.

Other options include cultivating plants at the far-reaching end of the septic field, where they are farthest from the tank.

Is it safe to grow edibles over a septic drain field? (permaculture forum at permies)

PollinatorPosts: 779 total views The location is Central Virginia, United States. 7 years have passed since this article

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Composting or giving our waste to topoopbeast trees or anything else is vastly preferable to septic systems in my opinion. I installed a septic tank and drainfield, had it checked up, and then immediately detached the drainfield, sealed that end of the tank, and began construction on a cistern. I strongly believe in and adhere to thehumanurehandbook, in which he goes over all of the diseases found in human manure as well as the temperatures required to eradicate them. With that being stated, Because you have a system in place, the issue is not one of plant roots ingesting whole organisms and transporting E coli, for example, from roots to fruit-the issue is one of “contaminated” ground coming into contact with the surface of the fruit or vegetable, so tomatoes would be relatively safe, while carrots might be a concern.

Soil tests would be able to tell you for sure whether this is the case.

Creating a good aerobic compost tea and spraying it around, or simply making a large amount of good aerobic compost and scattering it around-or top dressing any plants you put in-would be the most effective method of biologically decontaminating that soil.

Septic Field and Fruit Trees (homestead forum at permies)

Posted more than 8 years ago

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Not to be concerned, to put it succinctly. A more detailed explanation is as follows: For those concerned about the presence of human diseases, it’s just an issue of distance. Root crops, leafy vegetables, fruits with a rind that lay on the ground, fruits trellised or held above ground, tree fruits, and nuts are the foods that rank highest in terms of possible health dangers. The pathogenic bacteria will become food for some other soil creature long before they have a chance to accumulate in sufficient numbers to constitute a problem if there is a healthy soil biology present.

  1. coli is arguably the most prevalent troublesome organism, and Paul Stamets has demonstrated that allowing E.
  2. coli colonies present.
  3. It is possible to expedite the inoculation process by gathering any mushrooms that you come across, blending them with water, and then applying the mushroom smoothie to the mulch.
  4. It is not necessary to utilize the ordinary white kind of mushroom or its brown relative, the portabello, if you wish to go this path; instead, you must use shiitake or oyster mushrooms or cepi mushrooms.
  5. Again, the problem is mostly with the leaves and biomass of the plant, which are the primary sources of heavy metal contamination.
  6. It is possible to spread biochar around the trees, say a quarter to a half inch thick, to all of the area under the drip line, which will be beneficial in the long run.

Not only will it collect any heavy metals present in the soil, but it will also aid in the management of soil moisture and soil biology.

What Trees Are Safe to Plant Near a Septic Tank?

Davey utilizes cookies to make your experience as pleasant as possible by giving us with analytics that allow us to provide you with the most relevant information possible. By continuing to use this site, you acknowledge and agree to our use of third-party cookies. For additional information, please see ourPrivacy Policy. Subscribe to “The Sapling” on the Davey Blog for the most up-to-date information on how to keep your outside area in peak condition throughout the year. Septic systems, which have thick pipes that go deep throughout the yard, raise a lot of problems regarding what you may plant and where you can put it.

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Landscaping Ideas Around Septic Tanks: What to Plant Over a Septic Tank

Regardless of what you’ve heard, it’s not impossible that this will happen! It is true that the correct type of plant or tree may assist the system in keeping water flowing smoothly and preventing erosion. Plants that function best have soft, green stems and are well-adapted to the amount of rain that falls in your location. In other words, we’re talking about annual plants versus perennial plants against wildflowers versus bulbs versus grass. Trees may also be used, as long as you select one with shallow roots and place it a long distance away from the tank.

Can I plant oak trees, Japanese maples or fruit trees near a septic tank?

It is possible, but it is really difficult! The roots of trees are wired to follow the flow of water. As a result, if you plant trees or bushes too close to your irrigation system, they may pry into the pipes and block them, causing harm to the system and the water flow in your home. When it comes to landscaping near the tank, the plants we described above are typically a better choice. In fact, you may cover the system with flowers like those (or even grass) to disguise the system’s presence.

Thus, white oaks and crabapples are both good choices for landscaping.

Maple trees are infamous for blocking drains and sewer lines.

Biological or viral contamination of any plants grown in close proximity to your sewage tank may be a concern.

What trees are safe to plant near a septic system?

Even if it’s possible, it’s difficult. The water-following behavior of tree roots is imprinted into their DNA. Planting trees or bushes too close to your system might cause them to enlarge and clog, causing harm to the system as well as the flow of water in your house. When it comes to landscaping near the tank, the plants we described above are often a better choice. Flowers like those (or even grass) can be planted directly on top of the system, if you so want. Trees with shallow, non-invasive roots, on the other hand, are perfectly acceptable for usage if they are planted properly.

Japanese maple, on the other hand, is probably not something you want to eat.

Clogging pipes is a common problem with maple trees. It is also not a good fit for other fruit plants. Biological or viral contamination of any plants grown in close proximity to your sewage tank is possible. Put it this way:

  1. In zones 3-8, hemlock grows to be a beautiful evergreen that may reach heights of up to 80 feet. (Zones 3-8): An evergreen with wonderfully colored needles that may grow to be 80 feet tall
  2. It can be found in zones 3-8. Boxwood shrub (zones 4-9): An evergreen that is commonly used for hedges and grows to be around 10 feet tall
  3. It is a good choice for small gardens. Dogwood (hardiness zones 5-8): A spring-flowering tree that normally develops to be around 30 feet tall
  4. It blooms in the spring. Stunning blooming trees that grow between 30 and 50 feet tall in zones 5-8, ornamental cherries are a must-have for any garden. An added bonus is that there are several kinds and cultivars to pick from. In zones 5-9. American holly (Acer rubrum): An evergreen with vivid flashes of berries that often grows to reach around 50 feet tall
  5. It is a multi-stemmed palm that develops to be around 6 feet tall in zones 5b-11. The lady palm (zones 8-11) is a distinctive palm that may be grown to seem like a shrub and can grow to be around 10 feet tall. The pygmy date palm (zones 9-11) is a pint-sized palm that grows to approximately 12 feet tall and is extremely easy to grow.

Want a local arborist to plant your tree to keep your septic system safe? Start here.

Your septic tank is connected to your home by heavy pipes that run over and through your property. Because of the requirement of these pipelines, you may be wondering what you may safely grow in the vicinity of this location. It’s unfortunate, but there are some tree types that can cause major harm to a drain field or a septic tank, so you must exercise caution while working around them. However, if you follow the advice and information provided here, you may be certain that you have identified a few viable possibilities.

What to Plant Near or Over Your Septic Tank?

Please disregard any of the information you have received to this far. By selecting the appropriate species of tree or plant, you may actually aid in the efficient operation of your septic system as well as reducing the risk of erosion occurring on your property. It is likely that the plants that would thrive in this environment will have softer, greener stems and will have been adapted to the quantity of rain that is normally seen in your location. Trees, believe it or not, may also be useful in some situations.

Fruit Trees, Japanese Maples and Oak Trees

While it is feasible to grow the three trees mentioned above near your sewage tank, doing so can be difficult. Because tree roots are naturally drawn to water sources, it makes sense that they would do so. It follows as a result that if you choose to plant your trees or shrubs in close proximity to your septic system, it is quite possible that they will make their way into the pipes and create difficulties. This will have a negative impact on the water flow in your home as well as the complete septic system.

Crabapples and white oaks are two examples of such trees.

Other varieties of fruit trees are also unlikely to be a good match for this particular variety.

Consider the implications of this.

Safe Trees for Septic Tank Areas

A list of trees that can be planted in and around the septic tank area can be found further down this page. Although it is recommended that you keep them as far away from your system as possible, it is still a good idea. Some plants to consider for these kind of environments are as follows:

  • The boxwood shrub, Hemlock, White oak, White pine, Pygmy date palm, American holly, Ornamental cherry, Lady palm, and Dogwood are some of the plants that grow in the United States.

Getting in touch with professionals is the best course of action if you have any more inquiries concerning trees or your sewer system. They may assist you in determining which trees are suitable for specific locations and which trees should be avoided due to the possible damage they may bring after they have reached maturity.

Also, bear in mind the material presented below, which gives a useful summary of this essential subject matter.

Septic Tank Care: Which Trees to Plant Near Your Septic System

The addition of trees, bushes, and other plant life may improve the overall look of any landscape, but it is important to exercise caution when planting anything near a septic system. In our last article, we discussed which portions of your septic system are most sensitive to tree-root damage, as well as how far away you should place your trees from the septic system’s perimeter. The moment has come to take a look if you haven’t already done so. The trees, shrubs, and other plants that are safe to plant near your sewage system and the trees and shrubs that you should avoid growing anywhere near your septic system will be discussed today in detail.

Why might it be beneficial to plant vegetation near or over your leach field?

Several homeowners have become so anxious about the prospect of planting trees, bushes, or anything else in their leach field that they avoid doing it entirely. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, growing the appropriate sort of plants may be good to the health of your septic system. This is due to the fact that plants aid in the prevention of erosion by eliminating excess moisture from your leach field.

Which plants are safe to place near or over your leach field?

Planting plants with shallow root systems, such as grasses, annuals, and perennials, is your best hope for preventing soil erosion. Spring bulbs, wild violets, hollyhocks, bee balm, and deer-resistant perennials are all excellent alternatives for planting in the early spring. When it comes to planting trees and shrubs, on the other hand, you need to be a little more cautious. Planting trees and shrubs with shallow root systems near your septic system is quite safe. Here are a few examples of such plants:

  • Japanese Maple Trees, Holly Shrubs, Dogwood Trees, Cherry Trees, Boxwood Shrubs, Eastern Redbud Trees, Azalea Shrubs, and other ornamental plants

Keep in mind that you should avoid planting any plants near your septic system if you intend to eat the produce from it. It is possible that you may have better development, but none of the fruits or vegetables that are grown will be safe to consume.

What plants should you avoid placing near your leach field?

As a general guideline, you should avoid planting any trees or shrubs that are known to develop quickly and become enormous, as well as those that are known to actively seek out water sources. Other trees are more picky about the water sources they will seek out than others, and some species, such as weeping willow trees, will go for the water in the pipes that go through the leach field and into the surrounding fields. In the following list, you will find some examples of trees and plants that you should avoid planting in or near your leach field.

  • The following plants are included: Japanese Willow Shrubs, Ash and Birch trees, Pussy Willow Shrubs, Aspen trees, Tulip trees, Maple trees, Beeches, and other similar plants.
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The following plants are included: Japanese Willow Shrubs, Ash and Birch trees, Pussy Willow Shrubs, Aspen trees, Tulip trees, Maple trees, Beeches, and many more.

Can you plant fruit trees over a septic field?

Asked in the following category: General The most recent update was made on April 12, 2020. The simple answer is that it is preferable to keep fruits and vegetables away from septic systems, particularly septic drainfields, but that above-ground crops such as fruit trees are less likely to be affected. Keep an eye out for root crops that are planted over drainfields. It is possible that they are infected with sewer bacteria. Planting your septic field is typically considered a good idea, but it is not the best location for a vegetable garden.

  • It is possible that leafy vegetables will become polluted by rain splashing dirt onto the plant; thus, either mulch them to prevent soil splashing or don’t grow them.
  • Food cultivated in an overseptic environment is not recommended by some sources, however other research says that fruit treecrops will not have any infections transported from the waste to the fruit (for example, “in underdeveloped nations”) if they are grown in an overseptic environment.
  • Also, it’s important to know how close you may plant trees to a septic field.
  • As a result, a tree that matures to 30 feet in height must be placed at least 30 feet away from your septic system.
  • Herbaceous plants, such as annuals, perennials, bulbs, and decorative grasses, are typically considered to be the finest alternatives for usage on an asepticdrainfield because of their ability to tolerate high temperatures.

It is also advantageous to use ornamental grasses because they have a fibrous root structure that helps to retain soil in place and because they provide year-round cover.

Bulletin #2442, Vegetable Gardens and Septic Fields Don’t Mix

Visit for more information on the University of Maine Extension programs and services. More information about our publications and books may be found here. According to data from the United States Census Bureau, Maine is the most rural state in the US, with around 61 percent of our people living in rural regions. 1 Due to the fact that many rural-area properties are not linked to municipal sewer systems, many Mainers rely on septic systems to dispose of their household wastes instead.

Planning Around Your Septic System

In addition to an underground tank, a septic system also includes a soil absorption field, which is sometimes known as a septic system disposal field and is also referred to as a “leach field.” Through filtration and the work of microorganisms in the soil, the wastewater treatment field cleans the wastewater, preventing polluting water from entering nearby bodies of water such as lakes, streams, and groundwater.

Because of the presence of a septic system on your property, you may need to adjust your land use to accommodate the system.

This is especially true in the case of vegetable gardens.

What if You Don’t Know Where Your Septic System Is?

The challenge of locating your system is not always straightforward. Even if you are able to locate your septic tank, the disposal field may be several hundred feet distant. Refer to your septic system design form for assistance in locating your system (known as the HHE-200 form). Whether you are unable to locate a copy, you should inquire with your local plumbing inspector to see if he or she has a copy on file. Maine Subsurface Wastewater Program may be reached through the Maine Subsurface Wastewater Team page on the Division of Environmental and Community Health ( website, or by phone at (207) 287-5689.

If no record of your system can be discovered, you can contact a Site Evaluator to assist you in locating it.

How Septic System Wastewater Can Contaminate Your Garden

Untreated wastewater, commonly known as sewage, can be a health issue since it contains pathogens. Septic system disposal fields are intended to treat or refurbish the wastewater produced by septic systems. Because plants can become polluted by wastewater that has not yet been refurbished by a septic system disposal field, it is imperative that you do not grow a vegetable garden on top of, or immediately close to, a septic system disposal field. Plants growing on disposal fields have the ability to absorb pathogens from wastewater.

What You Should Know About Disposal — Field Design

A health threat can arise from the discharge of untreated wastewater, which is also known as sewage. Designed to treat or renovate wastewater, septic system disposal fields are used to dispose of it. Because plants can become polluted by wastewater that has not yet been refurbished by a septic system disposal field, it is critical that you do not grow a vegetable garden on top of, or immediately close to, a septic system disposal field.

Wastewater pathogens can be absorbed by plants growing on disposal fields. If you eat veggies that have become contaminated with microorganisms from wastewater, you might become very sick.

  • The wastewater level in a new septic system disposal field is often fairly low, especially in the early stages of the system’s operation. Over time, however, as the disposal field grows, it is possible that effluent will accumulate in ponds. A partial obstruction of the soil pores by particles escaping from the septic tank as well as the live and dead bodies of microorganisms is the cause of this. The greater the thickness of this clogging layer, the higher the level of wastewater in the disposal field will grow. The amount of wastewater produced will also increase over time as the number of family members grows and matures, as well as as a result of high-volume events. Water (including wastewater) will wick up into soil as a result of capillary attraction, and eventually the levels of wastewater in a disposal field will be high enough for even shallowly rooted plants to come into touch with it
  • Even shallowly rooted plants will come into contact with it. The capillary pull of the wastewater might lead it to wick up to a height of 18 inches in the disposal field if it rises high enough in the disposal field to come into touch with the fill material on top of it. This could happen depending on the texture of the fill material. Consequently, it is not recommended to plant a vegetable garden next to a landfill fill expansion, especially if it is located close to the landfill. However, even though there may be no wicking up to the top of the disposal field or fill extension material at first, it is possible that it will occur as the disposal field matures. Generally speaking, the soil over the top of a septic system disposal field is very permeable, particularly in the early stages of the system’s installation. As a result, in order for the plants to thrive in a garden that has been planted on top of a septic system disposal field, irrigation will be required. Addition of water to the top of a disposal field, particularly if the disposal field is only moderately functioning, has the potential to cause it to collapse. Turning the top of a disposal field might cause harm to the compacted hay or filter fabric on top of the field. if the compressed hay or filter fabric is damaged, it could allow soil particles to migrate down into the stone or other devices in the disposal field, reducing the wastewater holding capacity
  • If the compressed hay or filter fabric is damaged, it could allow soil particles to migrate down into the stone or other devices in the disposal field
  • In order to provide a safe growing environment for vegetable plants on top of a waste field, it is not recommended to place extra fill on top of the field. The addition of fill material has the potential to choke the disposal field by interfering with the free flow of air in the area. It is significantly more probable for an anaerobic (oxygen-free) disposal field to become clogged and fail than it is for a well-oxygenated disposal field. Additionally, adding more fill material to the disposal system may result in damage to the components of the disposal field. It is expected that any plants put on top of the disposal field would shoot roots down in search of water and nutrients, which will not be found in the gravelly sand fill material used for the disposal field. After everything is said and done, septic system disposal fields are unsuited for gardening because roots that come into touch with wastewater might absorb infections such as viruses, which can subsequently infect anybody who consumes the plants.

Better Choices for Covering Disposal Fields

Grass is the most appropriate plant to grow on top of septic system disposal fields and fill extensions since it is drought resistant. Flowers may also be effective, but only if you avoid rototilling the soil and excessively watering the plants, as described above. It is not recommended to grow woody-rooted plants on disposal fields or fill expansions because the roots of these plants may choke pipes and other equipment in the disposal field, causing them to fail. The use of bark mulch to cover the bare soil of your disposal field is a suitable choice if you do not want vegetation to grow over your disposal site.

Your Septic System, by John M.

(Orono: University of Maine Cooperative Extension, 2002, 2010).

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