planting near septic tank/leach areas question

loganladyJuly 14, 2010

I have no idea where I should post this so I am doing it where I usually hang out. I am thinking of adding some planters near the septic tanks. I would love to know what plants I need to stay away from using,etc...I am also thinking of adding some planters in the leach area across from the septic tanks. Can I plant over there with no issues or not? Right now there is a sorry looking dry creek bed and weeds. So ugly and absolutly no color at all. I'd love any ideas you have.

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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Did you try and search on this forum beca? Years ago (so long, it may not be here) someone planted a leach field. I also have a book about rain gardening which includes planting over a leach field. No trees, no tap roots, no edibles.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 2:45PM
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Post photos so we can all see. We would need to find very obedient plants so these don't do any harm in the area.

One thing to avoid is trees with roots that can invade the pipes and a willow is one to avoid.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 2:47PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

Beca, you said you want to do planters. Will they be raised planters? With a closed bottom, open bottom? I guess I don't really understand what you are trying to accomplish with the actual planting. The website below might help to get you started with plants that will work. Look for this towards the end of the page and you can click for more info:
Gardens Near Septics
Grasses or Flowers
Grazing, Animals
Ground Cover, Ivy
Trees or Shrubs
Using Root Killers
Using a Roto Rooter

P.S. I had planted a fringe tree about 3' away from my septic tank by mistake. I was so busy thinking about how great it would look with my big japanese maple I wasn't thinking about logistics. I have no plans to move it. I figure by the time the roots are big enough to do any damage (if they even will) it will be time to get the septic system replaced! LOL!!

Here is a link that might be useful: planting over septic field

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 5:56PM
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LOL that's hialrious, Thyme.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 10:44PM
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Well, I went outside yesterday and took some photos of the leach area and the septic area I am thinking of building some planting beds on and or nearby. Now to get them on here...always a problem for me but I will try it again. The area I am working with is approx. 16'x 40' (leach field) and the area where the septic tank is 6' by 24'.

Thank you thyme2dig for that website! I looked at it a long time ago but forgot about it. It looks very helpful..answering a lot of my questions. I know about not planting any plant/tree with a heavy invading roots system or edibles. When I post these photos you will see how ugly this area is. It's mainly decomposed granite with an ugly dry creek bed that runs across it. I want to build a few raised planters with some large rocks around the dry creek bed to make it look better and especially add some color out there. Add native plants so they will blend in,etc.

Ok...wish me luck on posting these photos.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 11:46AM
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OK I did it :):) My photo is in the photo gallery in Landscape Design section...under beca's septic tank/leach field posting...the septic tank is in front of the house and the leach field is across the driveway. I would appreciate any help. As you can see it is quite ugly and I am tired of it. I am thinking of doing 3-5 mounding planters around the mesa area and near the dry creek bed. Possibly putting in a small tree in one planter with native plants with tons of color!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 12:58PM
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lisa33(6b Bucks County PA)

I'm sorry I can't help with suggestions, but here's a link to your photo. :)


Here is a link that might be useful: Beca's Photo

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 1:43PM
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Beca, thanks for posting. I believe you need a more specialized forum to consult with regards to your garden. Xeriscaping seems to be far more suitable for your area. You need to find plants that do not require as much watering and obviously plants that can withstand very cold nights and very hot days.

A little design tip of mine. I take a photo of the garden in question and I take it from the angle you see it the most. Like from your door or your window. Then I blow up this photo in a black and white photocopier. And then I start drawing directly on them. So for the area you need to block off from view, take a pencil and draw on paper blocks, squares, rectangles, columns, rounds and basically move them about on the photo until you are satisfied with the positions. These figures represent plants. Columns can be a trellis, post, vine, tree, rounds, squares, rectangles are hedges, grasses, etc.. and for the moment, forget about flowers. When you do figure out how to position the plants, it's time to go to your local nurseries to consult on suitable plants.

Keep in mind, avoid trees because this is a septic tank area and roots can do a large amount of damage to pipes and tanks. Also keep in mind that in Arizona -- as I believe, you need plants that do not require watering - so this must be either cacti, agave, echeverias and other similar plants that get it's moisture from morning dew or mists. I do hope these are helpful tips for you.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 2:44PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

I agree that you need a forum that will suit your cultural needs. Here is a great link for you. Scroll down to the 2nd project, it's a septic and leach field bed garden in Arizona:

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 3:28PM
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Hi again

Thank you Lisa, inna (love your ideas on designing) and for the website girlgroupgirl. It's exactly what I needed to see for this area I want to change. I already have my cottage garden going on along the front side of my house (behind the picket fence)....that was a hard, fun project totally re-doing the garden out there...I should show photos someday.

But the area I am interested in re-doing in the fall will look a bit different but will still have a cottage look of English style and the Wild West look. Check out the July/August 2010 National Home Gardening Club Magazine "Gardening How-To"...there is an article all about doing this (Rose meets Cactus). I loved this article!!

I don't live in the hot Phoenix desert or nearby cities (we are at 4850 elevation) is in the high desert area. Here we have a lot more plants then just cacti,agaves and etc...and we do have plenty of flowers. Most of us also have our own well.

I hope to show my photos in a few months!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 9:08PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

If you have not already, google High Country Gardens and also Yucca Do. They should give you some good ideas, even just as a refresher. Sometimes when I just look at photos of plants it gives me some great ideas.
What I liked about the photos on the website I found was that they used rocks to raise up areas and add more soil, it was a creative way to keep the roots out of the leach field.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 12:29AM
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This is an overhead view of my back yard which is basically all leach field - furtherest away behind the fenched in cottage garden is the septic area and there are 3 drain fields coming across the yard through both gardens and grassy area - we are in our 10th year and no problems. There is a crepe myrtle just off the lower right part of the picture that is planted on the edge of the field - no problems so far ......


    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 6:46PM
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WOW!! Thanks Lynne! I knew this could be done. Your photo is just beautiful and exactly what I am thinking of doing in my front'll be "fun" re-doing it but I will love it when it is done. I also will use big rocks/boulders along with the native plants.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 1:01PM
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