Septic Landscaping

Bunch berry plants

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The drainfield is a critical component of your septic system. If your drainfield gets damaged it won't be able to treat wastewater from your home like it should, and that's why it's important to protect it. Keep your drainfield in good shape with these landscaping dos and don'ts:

Landscaping Do's

  • Learn where your system is located
  • Only plant grass or recommended plants
  • Walk your drainfield to check for issues
  • Direct water away from the drainfield
  • Use barriers to prevent unwanted traffic
  • Only use landscape fabric that's breathable
  • Keep off heavy equipment and livestock
  • If you build a fence around your drainfield, make sure it allows light to pass through
  • Keep the shape and slope of the surface

landscaping Don'ts

  • Build a patio, shed, driveway, etc. on top 
  • Plant trees or shrubs on or nearby
  • Pull out tree stumps, rototill, or dig (cut trees at ground level or grind instead)
  • Plant a vegetable garden
  • Put a rockery on top or nearby
  • Terrace within 50ft on sloping sites
  • Install a sprinkler system in or nearby
  • Install an artificial pond in or nearby
  • Put a firepit on top


One of the most important things to know when landscaping is where your septic system is. It helps you know what to avoid when landscaping or doing other projects. If you don’t know where your system is, you can find out using OnlineRME. Don’t see them there? Your system might be too old or installed before records were required. If this is the case, you can hire a septic professional to help figure out where your system is.


Grass is the #1 choice! Why? Because it provides year-round coverage, has shallow roots, and allows oxygen and water to move easily through the soil. If you choose plants other than grass over your drainfield, keep these traits in mind:

Shallow Rooted | Roots can clog holes, break pipes, and cause lots of damage. Some systems can be buried as shallow as six inches underground, so it’s important to pick plants that have shallow roots. 

Year-Round Coverage | Year-round coverage will prevent runoff of the topsoil above your drainfield, and it will keep the microbes in the soil happy by making sure oxygen gets into the ground all year long. 

Drought Resistance | Drought-resistant plants can be good for your drainfield because they need little water. However, some drought-tolerant plants can handle dry spells because of long, wide-spread roots that reach way down where water is present (which would be your drainlines!) and could cause damage. If a plant is drought resistant, make sure it still has shallow roots. 

Native Plants | Native plants are accustomed to our climate and require less maintenance. They’ll need less watering which will save your drainfield the added stress from extra water.

For recommendations on plant types, contact a nursery professional.

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