Problem with lawn over septic area

natureperson(7)May 15, 2007

Every year I have a problem with the area of the lawn over the septic tank and also the leach field. There is obviously plenty of sand that has been put down in these areas by the builder, and every spring/summer these areas dry out very quickly and need more water than the rest of the lawn. I have added soil and compost to the area, but it's never enough. The sun bakes it and it tends to get that ashen color and then sometimes actually dies in the summer.

What's the answer? Overwatering isn't good, but what are my other choices? It starts out looking beautiful in early spring.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

If the grass dies every year, where does the new grass come from? What kind of grass are you talking about?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 7:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I guess it doesn't all die, but some of it does, and we have added some seed. It's a tall fescue mix of some sort that is supposed to be good for this area and was recommended to me as somewhat drought resistant. It's the ashen look it gets in just these areas so quickly this time of year. If I water it every day, I'm afraid it will start to have other problems.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 7:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm sorry I don't have a solution to your problem.

But, when I read your title... I was reminded of the famous book written by humorist Erma Bombeck...(circa late 1970's)

"The Grass Is Always Greener Over The Septic Tank"

It's a funny book...but I guess Erma was wrong...

    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 10:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
deerslayer(Z5 NE IL KBG)

A more accurate title would have been "The Grass is Always Greener Over a Leaking Septic Tank".


    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 11:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is the only case I have heard of where the problem is poor growth over the drain field of a septic tank; usually it is the other way around. It may be worth your time to find out if the septic tank is working satisfactorily.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 6:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
deerslayer(Z5 NE IL KBG)

The grass over my septic tank dries out more quickly than the grass surrounding it. That's normal if the tank is not leaking.

When it's really hot and dry, you can see the outline of my septic tank access cover from the dry grass. My cover is about 6" below the surface of my lawn.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 11:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

You have fescue and it dies? or it doesn't? If it dies where does the new grass come from? Are you overseeding or something?

I've never heard of a fescue that had any drought resistance. How often are you watering and for how long? Is there any shade involved in this?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2007 at 2:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have the same problem here in CT.

To nice rows of brown (i.e dormant) grass every July/Aug.

My issue is that when it goes dormant, with the kids playing on it, some if it gets torn up. So in the spring I have nice grass with two rows of patchy grass...and in the summer, two nice rows of brown grass with patches of clay inbetween.

I'v tried reseeding, but it wont take.

I'm thinking of putting down a couple of in of compost.

Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 1:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't know why the idea that fescue has poor drought tolerance often persists. It was one of the main reasons that I planted it over bluegrass myself. It is not tolerant relative to buffalograss by any means but has a much deeper root system than the typical bluegrass you usually find around here. It might not come back from the dead like bluegrass seems to after a month or so of drought / no water and it is not quite as cold tolerant but I have actual data to back me up, sorry my links weren't coming up:

Drought tolerance ratings for bluegrass:
for fescue:

and from : "The fact that it stays green all year makes it more acceptable as a lawn grass. It has a dense root system and therefore a great tolerance to drought conditions. The older varieties are coarser textured and wear well. Kentucky 31 tall fescue is one of the more popular varieties planted throughout the USA. Fescue performs best in heavier soil with a lot of organic matter and grows in a large area of the USA as shown in the fescue-adaptation map for Tall Fescue below."

    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 6:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Any sandy (large particle) soil is going to do that.

For exa., Areas that had erosion problems in the past and a lot of sand washed into an area. Even though it is covered with top soil that spot always turns in the hot sun. Subsoil sand is generally devoid of organic matter and are larger particles than what was above it.
So if the contractor dug it out and replaced the top soil with that sand, you may be looking at a do over.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 8:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rosiew(8 GA)

I was curious about this so did a google search - lots of reading ahead for you - not an uncommon problem.

HTH, Rosie

Here is a link that might be useful: Grass dies over septic tank

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 7:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Cool season grasses, the type grown in zone 5, are genetically programmed to go dormant, not die, during the normally hot and dry summer months. Often that dormant grass looks like it did die. We keep our lawns green during those times with lots of water, and often lots of pollution causing fertilizers.
What can help is to add lots of organic matter to the sandy soil which can help hold moisture in the soil. Sometimes people will state that the grass over the septic tank will be greener, grow faster and thicker, but if that does happen there is a problem and that tank is leaking. Where the drain field is the grass, because of the soil moisture levels might be greener and grow beter, or it may not depending on how fast the effluent moves through the soil.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 7:06AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
beneficial nematodes for grubs and cool weather
Location: Northern VA. Found grubs after aerating....
PLEASE HELP - identify this weed
Hello all, I live in North Texas and just started organic...
Cornmeal for Brown Patch Disease Works
Hi, I just wanted to share that I had Brown Patch Disease...
Is It to Late in the to Apply Organic Fertilizers in Zone 5b
The condition of my lawn: The lawn is thick, but lacks...
So how out of touch are we????
Years ago, during one of those PBS marathon fundraisers,...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™