trees with shallow roots to plant above septic tank

Planting Trees With Shallow Roots Over Septic Systems

Do you have a septic tank? We’ve discussed in a previous blog (Common Problem With Tree Roots) the potential for tree roots to grow into underground pipes, septic systems, sewer lines, or water line as a big concern for homeowners. So, aside from avoiding planting trees close to your septic tank, what are some other solutions? Consider planting plants or trees with shallow roots over or near a septic tank. This could be a great way to create the landscape design you desire safely, with less limitations.

While it may be best advised to play it safe by avoiding planting trees over, or close to your septic system, there are some grasses, plants, and trees with shallow roots that are “septic safe”. Did you know that planting these septic-safe plants above your septic system can actually help the system keep water running smoothly and avoid erosion?

Typically, perennials and grasses with shallow root systems make for the ideal septic-safe planting solution.

If your septic tank is in a sunny area, consider some of these perennials that are best for heavily sunlit areas:

plants and Trees with shallow roots
  • Perennial Salvia
  • Montauk Daisy
  • Delphiniums
  • Coneflower
  • Red Hot Poker
  • Bearded Iris

If your septic tank is in a shaded area, consider these shade-loving perennials:

  • Lenten Rose
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Bunchberry
  • Hosta
  • Leopard Plant
  • Jacob’s Ladder

While planting trees above septic tanks is a bit riskier than ground covering grasses or perennials, some examples of shrubs and trees with shallow roots are:

trees with shallow roots
Japanese Maple Tree
  • Japanese Maple Trees
  • Holly Shrubs
  • Dogwood Trees
  • Cherry Trees
  • Boxwood shrubs
  • Eastern Redbud Trees
  • Azalea Shrubs

It is important to mention that while you may think that near/above your septic is a great spot for planting vegetation you plan on eating (and it will likely grow faster), it is not often safe to eat fruit or vegetables produced over or close by to a septic system.

There are also some trees to avoid planting over or near your septic system (generally should be planted at least 50 feet from underground drainage/systems):

trees with shallow roots
Elm Tree
  • Japanese Willow Shrubs
  • Aspen Trees
  • Birch Trees
  • Beech Trees
  • Elm Trees
  • Most Maple Trees
  • Ash Trees
  • American Sweetgum Trees

Aggressive large roots can wreak havoc on surrounding structures on your property like your home’s foundation, your driveway, decks, and underground drains/pipes. Being mindful of where you plant trees in relation to these important structures is key in avoiding costly damages. If you are purchasing a new home, it is important to have trees around the home inspected for several reasons, including their position in relation to important systems like your septic tank.

The Arborists at Red Cedar can inspect your existing trees, advise on a safe plan for new plantings, and design and implement the perfect landscape for you! Contact us today for your free consultation!