It is important to make careful plant selections when planting near a leach field (sometimes called a drain or septic field). If trees or shrubs are planted too close to a leach field the roots can find their way into the pipes and block the water flow. This blockage can then lead to waste water backing up in your septic tank and into the house. Since the area surrounding the pipes is constantly moist it does not take long for the roots to find it and take hold of the pipes.
Grass or flowers are the only plants recommended for above or next to leach fields, because their root system is far less extensive and invasive. If you would like some larger plants near your leach field there are some guidelines to follow. It is typically recommend that the maximum height of the tree or shrub is the minimum distance it can be planted from the leach field. For example, if the tree reaches a maximum height of 35' then it should be planted at least 35' from the edge of the leach field. However, there are some trees that have extremely aggressive roots system and should not be planted anywhere near a leach field or any other drainage pipes. All trees and shrubs should be at least 15' feet from the leach field.
- Acer :: Maple
- Betula :: Birch
- Fagus :: Beech
- Juglans :: Walnut
- Pinus :: Some Pines
- Platanus :: London Plane Tree
- Populus :: Poplar, Aspen, Cottonwood
- Salix :: Willow
- Taxodium :: Bald Cypress
- Ulmus :: Elm
There are some trees that have less aggressive root systems, making them ideal for planting near leach fields if trees are desired. Remember, the maximum height of the plant is still the recommended minimum distance from the leach field.
- Nyssa :: Black Gum
- Oxydendron :: Sourwood
- Pinus :: Some Pines
- Prunus :: Cherry, Plum
- Quercus :: Oak (Red, Scarlet, White)
- Tsuga :: Hemlock
Taking extra care when planting around your leach field could ultimately save you tens of thousands of dollars. While it may mean your windbreak or shade trees have to be planted farther way from the house, the security of knowing your septic system is safer from root damage is priceless.
While we strive for complete and correct information, not all plants grow true to their form and can not be guaranteed to grow as described.