Can You Plant Garden Over Septic Field? Let's Find Out!

Written By James
Updated May 16, 2021 by James

Can You Plant Garden Over Septic Field? Let's Find Out!

Can you plant a garden over a septic field? The answer is yes, but there are certain things to consider before doing so.

Here we will discuss the benefits of planting a garden over your septic field and what can happen if you don't. First, let's talk about the pros!

Sure, you can plant a garden over a septic field. That said, there are a few things you should consider before getting started.

First, you must be aware of the potential for the field to leak into your garden. If you're not sure whether or not your septic system is properly functioning, ask your local government to test it. (In some areas, you can also test it yourself using a home septic test kit, which you can find at your local hardware store.)

If the system is leaking into your garden, you may need to take steps to contain the waste. Also, make sure you're aware of any local laws or ordinances that may restrict your ability to plant a garden over a septic field.

There is a risk of contamination:

Contamination of drinking water is dangerous to humans (and animals) and can be deadly to some. For this reason, it's important to know how to plan a garden around a septic system.

First, you should know that septic fields are designed to treat sewage that is produced by your home or business. The treated sewage is then pumped into the surrounding soil through underground leach lines.

If the septic system is not properly maintained, it can contaminate groundwater. Additionally, with increased bacteria levels in groundwater, there are risks for mosquitoes that can transmit disease-causing agents like E. coli and Salmonella.

Higher risk of contamination from runoff entering into our drinking supplies due to the solid waste from our septic system.

Plants to plant over a septic field

Blackberries can be planted in a septic field. They are very hardy and have deep roots that keep them from being affected by the nutrient levels below ground, as well as runoff entering into our drinking supplies due to the solid waste from our septic system.

Groundcover plants like mint or thyme can be used for their aromatic properties and also they thrive over long periods of neglect because of how quickly they grow back after trimming.

Elderberry bushes offer fruits and flowers to attract pollinators while still drawing nutrients out of soil through its many root systems.

The berries themselves have been found to help with immune function and inflammation problems which makes it an excellent choice when planting near other people’s septic systems.

A thick row of perennial vegetables can be a great option for anyone with a septic system close by, while also helping to build soil health through organic matter and nutrients in the ground from decomposed roots or fruit.

For those that are looking for more traditional gardening techniques, raised beds can help provide enough space between plants so they don’t interfere with one another too much, but still allow you to plant deeper taproot plants like potatoes without having them disturbed when it is time to add compost around their base.

What plants should you not plant?

There are certain plants that should not be planted near septic systems, the same way that you would not put a vegetable garden right overtop of one.

The worst offenders are those with deep taproots like potatoes or carrots and anything from the allium family (onions, garlic, leeks) -- these can actually damage your system if they end up decomposing in nearby soil.

Although most plants do not affect your septic system, there are a few that should be avoided, including some that you wouldn’t think might be a problem.

The roots of some plants grow very large and can extend far from the plant’s base. If these roots come into contact with your septic tank, the roots can clog the drain field. Plants such as daffodils and irises, or trees like the magnolia, will do this.

Things to avoid when planting over a septic field

  • Do not plant-heavy or water-logged plants, and avoid planting poison oak or ivy.
  • Do not build a deck or patio over the septic field, and avoid adding mulch in the area.
  • Do not plant between the septic field and a well, and avoid planting in the south-facing side of the lot.
  • Do not create a hole that is too close to the septic field.
  • Do not plant any other plants that can cause harm or could be invasive (i.e., bamboo, yews).
  • Do not add compost or fertilizer in the area near your septic system because it will only encourage more growth of these types of plants right next door to where all your wastewater is going!
  • Anything with roots that grow down into the water table - such as shallow-rooted trees or shrubs like laurels, rhododendrons, azaleas, or viburnums; evergreens including pines and hemlocks; groundcover flowers such as liriope. This includes many fruit-bearing trees too which can get their roots into the water table like apples, cherries, pears, and plums.
  • Anything with deep taproots that can reach your septic system - like potatoes or carrots which can actually damage it if they end up decomposing nearby.
  • Alliums (onions, garlic leeks) because they are very difficult to kill once planted so you'll have a constant supply of allium plants growing in close proximity to your home's wastewater treatment plant.

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My father, and his father before him, and his father; for the past 3 generations, my family have always been into gardening. The green fingers is a gift passed down to me and I thoroughly enjoy it! I also have worked in the manufacturing department for Bosch and DeWalt so I like to think I know a thing or two about tools and such!
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