The septic system for your home is underground, which might make it seem like it is impenetrable. However, there are certain plants and landscaping that can actually negatively impact the septic system. The two main components of the septic system are the septic tank and the drain field, also known as the leech field. Both of these components are located underground on your property and it is extremely helpful for you to know where so you can avoid costly damage and leech field repair.
How the Drain Field Works
Wastewater leaves the home through the drains in sinks and tubs, toilets, and appliances like the dishwasher and washing machine. All liquid and solid waste that goes through the plumbing pipes ends up in the septic tank, where the solid waste sinks to the bottom and the liquid waste floats at the top. There are bacteria in the septic tank that are designed to start treating the liquid waste so that it can filter and clean the water. Then the liquid waste passes from the septic tank and into a series of perforated pipes known as the drain field or leech field.
The drain field is where the water is slowly released back into the ecosystem on your property. The pipes that make up the drain field are located deep underground and have holes that allow for the water to slowly seep out. The soil also continues to treat, filter, and clean the water so that it is safe to return to the natural environment nearby. Because the drain field is made up of perforated pipes, it is susceptible to damage from plants with long and strong root systems. That’s why it is helpful to know what plants are acceptable or not before you landscape on or around the drain field on your property so you can minimize leech field repair and be prepared when you do need it.
Acceptable Plants for Above the Drain Field
When it comes to growing plants above the drain field, you must be mindful of how deep these plants will root into the ground below. Plants that are appropriate for landscaping above the drain field include those with small root systems that won’t compromise the integrity of the drain field pipes, like perennials and grasses. Some plants can help to prevent erosion so that the soil that makes up the drain field stays intact and continues to function properly. Plants like perennials that like wet ground can help support the natural function of the drain field and soak up excess water that has come from the drain field underground.
Unacceptable Plants for Above the Drain Field
While flowers, shrubs, and even trees with shallow root systems are acceptable to plant above the drain field, plants with deep root systems are not advised. Plants with deep root systems may thrive on the well-watered soil above the drain field, but that actually causes their roots to continue to grow deeper. Deep roots in the soil can get too close to the drain field and could result in damaged or clogged drain field pipes. The pipes are perforated and plant roots may find their way into these holes, which can cause clogs and backups into the septic tank and eventually even the home. Other plants to avoid planting above or near the drain field are those with roots that actively and aggressively seek out sources of water, like the roots of a weeping willow tree. These types of trees and plants can also cause a lot of damage to the underground drain field system, leaving you needing leech field repair.
Drain Field Problems to Watch Out For
The water waste that leaves the home and passes through the septic tank needs a place to escape. If the drain field is clogged or damaged, this can cause serious damage to your entire septic system. If your septic tank overflows or sewage backs up into the home, septic system professionals will pump the septic tank and inspect it for any damage or issues. If there aren’t any issues with the tank then that may mean there are problems with the drain field. Soggy spots and pooling water above the drain field are a classic sign that there is something wrong with the drain field. Strong sewage odors above the drain field or septic tank also signal that something isn’t working quite right.
If you experience a septic emergency at your home, call in the experts at Septic Masters, LLC, for a thorough inspection, septic tank pumping, and drain or leech field repair as needed. Our team of licensed experts is here to help you 24/7, 365 days a year!