Roots = Septic Nightmare!

Here in the Southwest, we marvel at every shrub, bush, flowering plant and tree we can possibly keep alive with the minuscule amount of rainwater we receive each year.  As a homeowner, we want our yards to look nice! Trees not only provide aesthetic to your property, but are also practical adding shade and things like fruit and placeholders for things like tire swings!

When it comes to septic systems, roots of any sort can wreak havoc on sewer pipes and even the tanks themselves. Roots can break through the pipes and entangle themselves in the pipe causing pipe restriction and even large breaks in the pipe itself. There are a few rules to keep in mind when planting around a septic system:

  • Tank additives that claim to speed up the decay of roots are not proven to be effective.  In our area, roots are very thirsty and will do what they have to find water, even if that means breaking through a few sewer pipes to drink!
  • Choose plants that are drought-resistant/tolerant as the disposal area and septic tank are high-moisture environments. 
  • As a good rule-of-thumb, plant shrubs and other small root system plants at least 10 feet away from the septic tank, sewer pipes and disposal area. 
  • Planting gardens in the area of your system are a bad idea for reasons including bacteria contamination and roto-tilling over the pipes that may be as shallow as just 6 inches!
  • Grasses and native weeds and flowers that do not have deep roots, typically do not pose a threat to the septic system. Remember that anything planted around the lids of the tank or disposal area may have to be dug up for tank access for maintenance and/or repairs.

For more information on how to locate your tank, visit our website!