Buying a house with a septic system and leach field means knowing how to take care of that tank and the property around it. One of the things that many homeowners do is look for greens and other foliage to plant over the field. Whether you're looking to preserve the soil structure and stability or you want to help enhance the oxygen exchange in the area, planting over that leach field is a good way to go. Here are a few things you should consider when you're looking to add ground cover to that property.
Be Selective About What You Plant
When you're ready to start covering the leach field, avoid choosing anything with a thick or heavy root structure. Those roots can force their way into the pipes beneath the surface. The same applies to plants with aggressive root growth, such as small trees and hardy bushes.
Instead of trying to plant things like this that can threaten the plumbing's integrity, look for ground cover options with shallow and more fragile roots. Things like ornamental grass, flowering annuals, and perennials are good choices in this kind of area because the root systems are short, close to the surface, and gentle enough to preserve the plumbing.
You'll also want to avoid any plants that require dividing or any hands-on maintenance. The more work you have to do with your ground cover on the leach field, the more the soil is disturbed. This can lead to erosion and may also damage the pipe integrity.
Ground cover that produces a thick canopy is also going to be problematic over your leach field. You'll want something that allows sunlight through the greens because that sun will help keep the soil from retaining moisture. In addition, it will help encourage the oxygen exchange and evaporation that's essential for the maintenance of your leach field.
Be Attentive To The Drain Lines
The drain lines that run through the leach field will sit just below the soil surface. That means that anything you do with the surface soil can affect those lines. Avoid adding any soil over the leach field for this reason. The excess weight can add pressure on those drain lines and may actually cause shifting and other damage. The only time it's permissible to add soil in the leach field is if you're trying to fill in areas affected by erosion.
Be Cautious About The Soil Safety
Any time you're working in the leach field, whether for planting, weeding, or other work, always wear gloves. This will protect your hands from exposure to any bacteria that may be in the soil. In addition, wash and sanitize your gardening tools after using them in the leach field area. Don't use them in the yard again until you've done this so that you don't introduce any contaminants from the leach field into your garden soil.