With thick pipes that run deep throughout the yard, septic systems bring up lots of questions about what you can plant–and where.
A Davey blog reader from Washington State asked, “I would like to create an evergreen hedge to hide a new commercial neighbor. Would the skyrocket juniper be invasive to my septic?”
Below, find out if the skyrocket juniper works well and get tips on the best plants and trees to plant.
Regardless of what you’ve heard, this isn’t out of the question! In fact, the right kind of plant or tree can help the system keep water running smoothly and avoid erosion.
Plants that work best typically have soft, green stems and are well-adapted to your area’s rainfall. So, we’re talking about annuals, perennials, wildflowers, bulbs, or grass.
Trees can work, too, if you choose one with shallow roots and plant it far away from the tank itself.
It can be done, but it’s tricky! Tree roots are programmed to follow water. So, if you plant trees or shrubs too close to your system, they could pry into the pipes and clog them, which damages the system and your home’s water flow.
The plants we mentioned above are usually a better option for landscaping near the tank. In fact, you can plant flowers like those (or even grass) right over the system.
But, when planted carefully, trees with shallow, non-invasive roots are OK to use. That means both white oaks and crabapples are suitable options. You’ll probably want to skip the Japanese maple, though! Maples are notorious for clogging pipes.
Other fruit trees aren’t a good match either. Any vegetation planted near your septic tank may be at risk from bacterial or viral contamination. Think about it.
Getting back to the reader who got this conversation started, yes, you can plant skyrocket junipers because of their shallow roots.
But there’s a caveat with that and all the other candidates below. You should plant as far away from the system as the tree will be when it’s fully grown. So, since skyrocket junipers typically grow 20 feet tall, plant it at least 20 feet away from the system.
Now without further ado, here are other trees and shrubs to plant near a septic system: