Landscaping to Avoid Root Infiltration
If you're a homeowner, it is extremely important to take care of your sewer line system or septic tank to prevent costly damage. Root infiltration is one of the most common causes of damage sewer lines, pipes and septic storage tanks. Over time, sprawling roots from trees and shrubs can make their way through thin cracks and holes in pipes, lines and tanks. Once they've penetrated, they can continue to grow, creating a major blockage that cause unsanitary sewage and waste water to back up into your home...or to leak and soak through the soil in your lawn.
To avoid root infiltration damage, try to avoid planting trees and plants with long root systems or that require a great deal of moisture within the vicinity of your main sewer line or septic tank. These plants will seek out and gravitate toward pipes, lines and tanks. Instead, stick with these sewer and septic safe alternatives.
- Grass: Plain old lawn grass is one of the best (and safest) things you can plant over your septic tank or main sewer line. The roots are very short and grass is relatively easy to care for. Try Kentucky bluegrass or Rye grass, be sure to mow regularly, and treat yearly with a weed-killing formula.
- Perennials: Perennial plants and flowers > like daisies, daylilies, and poppies > come back year after year. These plants are a good choice because they are low-maintenance and inexpensive. When planting perennials over a septic tank or the path of a sewer line, lay down topsoil at least six inches deep and cover with a layer of mulch to keep the soil from eroding.
- Wildflowers: Wildflowers also have short root systems that won’t reach deep enough to damage your sewer line or septic system. They provide great color, thick coverage, and a distinct look to any area of your yard. You can purchase individual packets of wildflower seeds in coordinating colors to give your planting structure or choose mixed seeds for a more casual, random garden. Be sure to put down an inch or two of good quality top soil so your wildflower seeds will sprout.
- Septic Tank Mix: Septic tank mix, or prairie mix, is a blend of wildflowers and wild grasses. It’s easy to plant, sprouts quickly, is super-low maintenance, and doesn’t require a bed of topsoil in order to flourish. Septic tank mix is often recommended by professionals because it absorbs excess moisture from the ground and has a very short root system. You can find prairie mix in any lawn and garden or home improvement store.
- Ornamental Grass: Ornamental grasses are also easy to grow and don’t require much maintenance. They tend to spread but don’t grow deep, so there’s little chance of the roots damaging your sewer lines or septic tank. The simplest way to start growing ornamental grasses is to purchase a starter plant in a small container from your local garden center. Once it’s replanted in the ground over your septic tank or sewer line, it should start to spread out within a few weeks. There are plenty of colors and varieties to choose from, making it easy to create a custom look for your home.
- Container Gardens: Most septic tanks need maintenance or repairs at some point. If you’ve invested a lot of time and money planting in this area, you could face a significant loss if the ground must be disturbed. An easy way to avoid this while still adding beauty to your yard is by arranging container plantings over the septic tank. Flowers, grasses and other plants can be potted in attractive containers and set over a layer of pea gravel. That way, if you ever need access to the underground parts of your septic system, you can simply move the containers out of the way until the work is finished.
Repairing and replacing sewer lines and septic tanks can be quite expensive and usually requires digging and tearing up large patches of your yard. Adding these plants can not only help you avoid these costly and destructive repairs, they can also give your yard added beauty and attract songbirds and butterflies.