Gardening and your septic tank. Grass is always greener around the septic tank. And it’s true! All the nutrients around your drain field are excellent for living organisms in your yard.

The standard advice is that you shouldn’t plant anything other than grass over a drain field just out of concern for the field itself. That’s because plants with deep, or aggressive, roots, can clog or bust through pipes in your septic system, which end up costing you a hefty amount of money to replace.

If you have a septic system though, don’t feel like you can’t plant in your garden. Instead, just be aware that your drain field should remain clear of plants with deep roots. or fast spreading roots. So should be kept clear of trees and heavy, decorative objects. Instead, there are a ton of plants that can work with your garden and septic system in tandem.


If you have a sand mound design, avoid working organic matter into the sand mound or covering it with mulch because the purpose of the mound is to get rid of organic matter and to evaporate moisture. Do try and divert surface runoff from roofs, patios, and driveways, away from the absorption field.

If you are looking to grow a new tree in your yard, there is a great benchmark that you can follow: plant your new tree a distance equal to the anticipated height of the tree at it’s maturity plus 20%. Example trees:

  • Dogwood
  • Japanese Maple
  • Easter redbud
  • Cherry
  • Azalea shrubs
  • Boxwood shrubs
  • Holly shrubs

Feel free to continue with regular gardening activities like digging into the first inches of soil over your drain field. This won’t likely do damage to your drain field.

You can grow plants around your septic field. Shallow-rooted plants are wonderful choices that aren’t likely to damage or clog your septic pipes. For example:

  • Herbaceous
  • Perennials
  • Annuals

For your garden, the absolute best thing you can grow is grass. Grass will be a great way to cover the area around the drain field and will help with soaking up moisture while adding stability to the surface. While you’re at it. Avoid covering this same area with concrete, asphalt, or other hard surfaces
So we know that when it comes to your septic tank, there is slightly more to consider than with a regular garden, but hopefully these tips will make growing your garden a bit easier!

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