Trees And Septic Systems

Asked January 4, 2020, 1:00 PM EST

What type of trees can be planted near an engineered mound septic system? I’m concerned about tree roots damaging the system. How far away do the trees you recommend need to be planted?

Ingham County Michigan trees and shrubs gardening septic systems

1 Response

How near can trees be planted is tough to answer. Trees vary greatly in their root systems. A forty foot tall tree can have roots spreading 60 to 80 feet in every direction. You need to keep roots far enough away that they are not going to damage the system. The cost of replacing a damaged system needs to be your main focus. Planting smaller trees or shrubs that do not get more than 12 feet tall may be the best solution and avoid any tall growing trees, especially elms, maples and willows. The twelve foot trees like dogwoods, crabapples, redbuds would have smaller root systems and could be planted 25-30 feet from the mound. There are many great shrubs such as ninebark, lilac, buttonbush, and viburnums that would also match the size of the smaller trees and could be planted the same distance away. The smaller the plant the closer it can be to the septic field. Some article even discuss the use of herbaceous perennial plants but advise to select ones that require less water. Watering too frequently over a septic field is not recommended. For more information see the following article: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/could-you-please-tell-me-what-native-plants-i-can-plant-on-the-drain-field