Your guide to septic safe plants…

You’ve just installed your new septic system and you’re left with a dirt patch. Or you are tired of the boring green landscape. You want to enhance your curb appeal and keep your yard septic friendly. Here are some tips for septic safe plants and landscaping.

Why Plant On Your Septic System

You may have been scared away from planting on your septic system. And for good reason. Invasive tree roots can wreak havoc on drainfields. But, certain plants and landscaping can help the efficiency of your system.

Grasses and flowers reduce erosion of the soil over your drainfield, leaving it protected. They regulate moisture and can help reduce flooding after heavy rains. They optimize the exchange of oxygen in the soil needed to filter the last of the bacteria from your wastewater.

colorful septic safe plantsTypes of Septic Safe Plants

Septic safe plants for over your system and drainfield are Herbaceous plants which are short-rooted plants.

The ideal plant suggested is simple grass, as they take the least amount of work and have short roots. If you plant flowers, stick to flowering annual or perennial bulbs with short roots or wildflowers.

While you typically want to stay away from trees and shrubs, there are few that can be planted near (but not over) your system. They include:

  • Dogwood Trees
  • Japanese Maple Trees
  • Eastern Redbud Trees
  • Cherry Trees
  • Azalea Shrubs
  • Boxwood Shrubs
  • Holly Shrubs

Try to stick with plants that are native to your area. They will have the best reaction with your climate. If you are not sure where to start, stop by your local garden center.

The Bad Plants

Deep roots are deadly for a septic system and drainfield. They can penetrate and clog pipelines, drainfield lines, and the tank itself. Trees and shrubs to generally be avoided include:

  • Pussy Willow Shrubs
  • Japanese Willow Shrubs
  • Aspen Trees
  • Lombardy Poplar Trees
  • Birch Trees
  • Beech Trees
  • Elm Trees
  • Maple Trees (except Japanese Maple Trees)
  • American Sweetgum Trees
  • Ash Trees
  • Tulip Trees

Stay away from plants that require frequent work. The less you are disrupting the soil, the better.

Avoid edible food gardens near the septic system as contamination is possible. Always wear gloves when gardening near your septic system.

Surrounding Area Landscaping

While not in direct contact with your septic system, it is important to landscape the rest of your yard accordingly.

Large trees should be removed from the general area as their roots can spread far and wide. The rule of thumb is to keep all trees at least 100 feet from your home and septic tank.

Use barriers, natural or man made, to discourage traffic over your system. This especially applies to vehicle parking. Make it obvious!

Use mulch, flowerbeds, rain gutters and drains to divert excess water from your drainfield.

Septic Safe Landscaping and Plants Video


Just because you have a septic system doesn’t mean your yard has to be barren. It doesn’t even have to be just grass. Stay with septic-safe plants to avoid the headache of a damaged system while enjoying your yard and landscaping. For more in-depth landscaping questions, contact Advanced Septic Services at 352.242.6100.