If they aren’t placed properly, some landscaping features and vegetation have the potential to cause serious damage to septic tanks and drain fields. That’s why spring and early summer — prime planting season — is an important time of the year to remember some of the key do’s and don’ts when it comes to landscaping around your septic system.

Read on to learn which plants or grasses can actually help you keep your septic system healthy, and which landscaping choices could lead to expensive repairs.

Planting Do’s and Don’ts


  • Let tall fescue grass, Kentucky bluegrass, or other lawn grass (including ornamental grass) grow over the patch of land covering the septic tank.
  • Consider planting perennials. Grasses and perennials both have a shallow root system that should do no harm to your tank or drain field. Wild violets, hollyhocks, and bee balm are a few types of perennials that are able to tolerate the area around a septic system that is often wetter and saltier than the rest of the lawn.
  • Think about the future growth of any trees, shrubs & bushes and how that growth will affect access to the septic tank lids, leach field and sprinkler system.
  • Consider letting weeds grow over that patch, if the only other option is leaving it barren.


  • Get so worried about plants/grasses damaging your septic tank that you leave the area barren. Some grasses and plants (mentioned above) do a good job of absorbing excess moisture around the drain field and helping prevent issues from overwatering.
  • Overwater your lawn to get newly planted vegetation growing faster. Overwatering can compact soil over your leach field and case the septic system to get backed up.
  • Grow any root vegetables in the area of your system. These nutrient-absorbing plants may have issues with bacteria if placed too close.

Landscaping Do’s and Don’ts


  • Use small, non-woody ground covers
  • Consider shallow-rooted trees and shrubbery for areas around the septic system, but keep them at least 10-15 feet away from your tank.
  • Use cherry trees, dogwood trees, holly shrubs eastern redbud trees, azalea shrubs, and boxwood shrubs if you’re looking for good shallow-rooted options


  • Put down plastic sheeting or install ponds. These features prevent proper drainage from tank to leach field.
  • Create walkways or high traffic paths over the septic tank or leach field.
  • Forget that fencing and gate placement can affect septic pumper truck access. The hoses on the truck are heavy and we don’t recommend going over fences with them. Most pumpers like to have access within 50 feet from the truck.

Those are a few good tips to help you avoid the biggest mistakes that homeowners make during planting season. If you avoid deep rooting vegetation and don’t compact the soil over your tank or leach field, you should be on track for a nice looking lawn that won’t lead to septic problems.

And to make it easier for septic pumping professionals, think about putting a potted plant or lawn ornament over the lid of your tank. That makes it easier for us to find it when it’s time for a pump out.

If you need a septic tank pumping service call to keep your lawn and household in tip-tip shape this time of year, contact Front Range Septic today: 970-302-0457.