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  • Writer's picturersbarnesseptic

A Guide to Planting Trees Near Your Septic System (Plant & plan carefully)

Updated: Apr 3

Planting trees and shrubs near your home can enhance its aesthetic appeal and provide environmental benefits. However, when it comes to planting near your septic system, it's crucial to proceed with caution.


Certain species, especially the worst trees for sewer lines, can pose a significant threat to your septic system's integrity. On the other hand, shrubs with non-invasive roots can be a safer choice.


Homeowners often wonder, "Can tree roots damage sewer pipes?" These concerns are valid, as improper planting near sewer pipes can lead to costly repairs. Choosing the best trees to plant near sewer pipes, especially when dealing with PVC pipes, requires careful planning and knowledge. 

What Are the Risks of Planting Trees Near Sewer Lines?


What Are the Risks of Planting Trees Near Sewer Lines?

Planting trees near sewer lines can pose several risks, not only to the septic system itself but also to the environment and the safety of household members.


▪️ For the Septic System: The primary concern is the potential for root intrusion. Tree roots, particularly from species known as the worst trees for sewer lines, can aggressively grow towards and into sewer pipes. This intrusion can lead to blockages, cracks, and even complete collapse of the sewer pipes.


▪️ Environmental Risks: Tree roots disrupting sewer lines can lead to sewage leaks, contaminating the surrounding soil and groundwater. This contamination not only harms local ecosystems but can also contribute to broader environmental problems, such as water pollution.


▪️ Risks to House Members: The consequences of damaged sewer lines extend to household members too. Sewage backups caused by root intrusion can lead to health hazards within the home, exposing residents to harmful bacteria and unpleasant odors.


What Types of Trees You Should Not Be Planting Near Sewer Lines?


What Types of Trees You Should Not Be Planting Near Sewer Lines?

When considering landscaping near sewer lines, certain types of trees should be avoided due to their aggressive root systems. Notably, willows, poplars, and large species of maples are among the worst trees for sewer lines. These trees have extensive root networks that can easily invade and damage PVC pipes and other sewer line materials.


Additionally, oak and elm trees are also known for their invasive roots, posing a significant threat to the integrity of sewer systems. It's essential to be cautious with these species to prevent potential damage to underground utilities.


How Far Should Trees Be From The Septic Tank?


How Far Should Trees Be From The Septic Tank?

When planning your septic tank in the backyard, it's crucial to consider the distance of trees from the tank. A general rule of thumb is that the distance should at least equal the mature height of the tree.


For instance, a tree that is expected to grow 20 feet tall should be planted a minimum of 20 feet away from the septic tank. This precaution helps to minimize the risk of root intrusion and ensures the safety and functionality of your septic system.


What Are The Best Practices For Planting Near Sewer Pipes?


What Are The Best Practices For Planting Near Sewer Pipes?

When planting near sewer pipes, adhering to best practices is essential for minimizing risks. Firstly, choose plants with shallow root systems, such as small shrubs or grasses, to reduce the chance of root intrusion. It's advisable to keep all trees and shrubs, regardless of their size or growth rate, at least 10 feet away from your sewer lateral.


If the tree has spreading roots or requires substantial water, it should be planted at least 20 feet from underground pipes or utility lines. This careful spacing helps prevent root intrusion and minimizes the risk of damage to your sewer infrastructure.


What Can You Plant Near Sewer Pipes?


What Can You Plant Near Sewer Pipes?

When considering what to plant near sewer pipes, especially over drain fields, opting for shallow-rooted plants is key. Grasses and small, non-invasive ground covers are ideal, as they pose minimal risk to underground systems. 


For instance, ornamental grasses, clover, or creeping thyme can be safely planted. If you prefer shrubs, choose varieties with non-invasive roots, like boxwood or holly. These plants help stabilize the soil without endangering the sewer pipes beneath. Avoid deep-rooted trees and large shrubs to ensure the safety and functionality of your sewer system.


Final Thoughts


The key to successful landscaping near sewer lines lies in careful planning and selecting the right plants. Remember, the distance from trees to sewer lines is crucial, with a general rule of keeping a space equivalent to the tree's mature height. 


By following these best practices, you can enhance your property's beauty without compromising the functionality of your sewer system. 


We can help you with landscaping around your sewer lines or plant selection. Our expert team at Barnes Sewer & Septic provides you with guidance and services are tailored to your specific needs (765) 584-7295.  Let's ensure your landscaping decisions are both beautiful and safe for your home's essential systems.


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