How to Plant Over Septic Leach Fields

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Planting the wrong kinds of plants over a septic leach field (or, "leaching field"), can lead to costly repairs later. Certain plants with deep roots, such as trees and shrubs, can destroy the leaching field. Shallow-rooted annuals and perennials can add to the landscape of what could be just a plain grass area, without damaging the leaching field, and in just a few basic steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Roto tiller Garden rake Annual and perennial potted plants or seed Shovel Garden hose Mulch bark
  • Remove all large rocks from the ground above the leaching field. Use the roto tiller and work the ground to a depth of 4 to 6 inches deep. Most septic fields are at a depth below 3 feet; therefore there should be no risk that the shallow-running tiller can damage a properly installed septic field and its pipes.

  • Rake the ground smooth. Remove as many of the smaller stones as possible. The more the soil is exposed the healthier the plants.

  • Lay the potted plants out in a pattern of your choice, before setting them in the ground.

  • Dig the holes for the plants. Remove the plants from the container. Set them in the holes and pack the soil tightly around the roots. Water them in with the garden hose to remove all air pockets from the roots. If you are seeding the area, broadcast the seed by following the planting instructions on the packaging. Different species of seeds will require specific planting rates. Water the fresh seed until the plants germinate.

  • Spread a layer of bark mulch 3 to 4 inches deep around the plants. The mulch will keep weeds from growing and aid in holding in the moisture.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can plant on top of the septic tank itself, but be aware that the plants may have to be removed if any work is needed on the tank in the future.
  • Planting over the access cover is not recommended as some septic systems may have to be pumped annually. Planting a vegetable garden over a septic field is not recommended as some pathogens harmful to humans may migrate up and into the plants.

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