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Is It Safe to Plant a Garden Over a Septic Field?

You might think it’s a great idea to plant a garden over your septic field.  However, it really is not the best place for a vegetable garden. Certain shallow-rooting plants can help the septic drain system work better by eliminating dampness and nutrients from the soil. They can also decrease soil corrosion.

Saviour Septic, LLC advises using your septic field for decorative plants instead. Having said that, if you do not have any other spot for your vegetable garden, we recommend taking the following precautions:

  • Be sure to not plant root crops over any drain lines.
  • Lettuce and other leafy vegetables could possibly get tainted by splashing rain, which throws soil onto the plant.  Therefore, you may want to mulch them to reduce splashing, or not grow them at all.
  • Fruit is a little safer.  Make sure you put those that grow on vines, like cucumbers or tomatoes, onto some sort of support so that your fruit is off the ground.
  • Carefully wash produce from the garden prior to eating.
  • It is never a good idea to build raised beds over your field.  They could constrain evaporation of moisture.
  • Lilies have shallow roots and are a beautiful plant to put over the septic field.

Again, we would recommend planting shallow-rooted plants that are not extremely water-loving on septic fields. The pipes in your leach field are usually approximately six inches below the ground. These pipes permit septic tank waste to drain over a hefty area. As it seeps into the ground, the waste is rinsed by the soil. Plant roots can aid in removing extra moisture and nutrients, making the sanitization of the residual waste more effective.  However, roots that block or disturb pipes can harm the drainage field.

septic drain field garden

Image credit: A creative way to deal with a septic tank! (http://outlawgarden.blogspot.com)

Bottom line – Leach field gardening can be a challenge, but if you shop around, you can find plants that will fulfill your landscaping needs, while not interfering with or blocking drain pipes. Go for the flowering perennials and annuals, turf grass, and other ground covers, which are not likely to damage the lines. In addition, do not over till the soil and make sure you wear gardening gloves to protect yourself from contact with any unsafe organisms that could be present in the soil.