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Alternative to grass on new septic leach field.

July 28, 2008

My septic field was just redone. Instead of replacing the grass, I will be planting ground cover and maybe some plants that can be used over a septic field. I saved alot of creeping mazus that was taking over the lawn before, I'll reuse that.

Does anyone have any ideas of how to amend the soil before I start to plant? The company that redid the field usally adds chemaical fertilizer then sod or seed. He has a power rack and will add whatever I want to the soil. That will save me alot of work! What do you recomend I add?

I did a search and saw that someone redoing a septic field in July had a lot of problems with weeds. Should I mulch with newspapers? Any ideas of how I should goa about this would be appreciated.

Comments (10)

  • smokensqueal

    You really need to find out what your soil needs by testing it or at least do some basic stuff to find out the organic matter of the soil. Is it clay or sand etc... from there you can find out what actually needs to be added. What I found was that if your not sure peat moss always seems to help if you don't have any compost.

    But as far as what to plant, not knowing your location, but anything you plant now at the end of July is going to take a lot of watering even on top a leach field.

    What kind of septic system do you have? I have an areation system with a drip system connected. I'm actually looking at possibly running a sprinkler system of it instead of it going into a small area of yard that I have to cut every few days. According to the manufacture and EPA the water that comes out of the system is "drinkable" but neiter one recommeds it. So I figured it can't hurt to use it to water the rest of my lawn and flowers.

  • freedee

    The soil has a lot of clay in it. Remember, I'm not going to be able to grow plants with deep roots anyway. I guess I'll be limited to ground covers, I think. I told the contractor to add peat moss. I can't find compost in that great amounts, I think peat will be fine.

    I'm interested in your idea about reusing your water. I've installed the plumbing for a hot and cold shower, but I haven't figured out what to do with the run off. I would love to reuse it in the garden with a pump. Has anyone done that? Where should I post that question?

  • Kimmsr

    What you grow over the septic system drain field should aid in the evaporation of the fluid from your septic tank. There are two ways the drain field gets rid of those fluids, drainage through the soil and evaporation and grass is the most efficient method of doing the evaporating. Since peat moss may help hold that moisture in the soil it is not a good idea to add any to that soil, because you do not want that liquid to stay there very long. Also your states public healthy laws, the ones that govern septic systems, may not permit anything except grass over the drain field.

  • smokensqueal

    kimmsr you are some what correct you don't want to over do the peat moss. To much and it might feel like you are walking on a swamp. For mine the clay was so hard that a day after it rained it would start cracking. We ended up working in a fair amount of peat moss and still had some troubles keeping the ground moist enough to get grass to grow. It starting to look better but this fall we are going to plug it and seed a little more grass and add some compost to hopefully stop the weeds and water grass that has came up in the bare spots. Also if the clay is to hard it's not going to absourb anything. We had two spots that water would actually push up through the cracks.

  • freedee

    My township will allow me to plant ground cover and other plants over the septic field. I'd like to find out which are the best ones to use. The area is circled by very tall trees. It's like a bowl. No trees overhang it, but they are all around.

    I love to garden and would love to use the only part of my property that isn't in shade for the plants that I can't have elsewhere. Any advise?

  • freedee

    I'm going to cover the area with newpaper, wet it down and then apply 2" of mulch. In the fall I will plant bulbs and ground cover. How do I find out which newspaper has safe inks?

  • Kimmsr

    For economic reasons newspaper today use soya based inks for most of the paper, the exception would be the glossy ad inserts. The inks, even the colored ones on newsprint, are safe in the garden.

  • PKponder TX Z7B

    I successfully grow Hardy Hibiscus and Hollyhocks in my aerobic spray field. I don't see why you could not grow flowers or small shrubs there as long as the root systems are not too agressive.


  • freedee

    Thanks! I'll just use any newspaper then. Iwon't plant anything until the fall. If anyone has any tips on what to plant or not to plant, that would be helpful.

    I posted the out door shower question on the plumbing forum.

  • diggity_ma

    I agree with Kim that grass really is the best covering for a septic system, but if you're heart is set on a ground cover and the town is OK with it, then I'd recommend ajuga. It's pretty, and a very vigorous grower.


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