The Q&A Archives: Japanese Maple between house and septic tank?

Question: I have about 8-9' of space between my kitchen window and my septic tank, and I'd like to plant a Japanese Maple tree outside the window (between the house and the tank). The drain field goes out into the yard in the opposite direction. I'm worried about the roots causing damage to the tank and also damage being done to the roots when the tank is serviced. I'd like to have a tree, not a bush- and I prefer the star-shaped leaves over the lacy ones. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can make this work? Maybe a variety of tree/method of planting combination that would alleviate the problem? I really have my heart set on this...

If there's no way to make a Japanese Maple work, can you suggest an alternative plant that's similar in density and coloring that may work?

Answer: Jennifer,

I am sorry for this delayed reply to your gardening question. We are transitioning to a new Q&A system and your question was unfortunately lost in the transition. I have discovered it now and hope this reply is not too late to be of help.

You could just plant the tree as it will not likely do any significant damage as long as the septic tank is properly built and thus well sealed. That tree is not so big anyway so its root development is correspondingly limited. If you wish to be extra careful you will need to set some type of vertical barrier into the soil near the septic system to form an underground wall about a foot or so deep. Thick pond liner plastic is one option for such a material.

Thanks for the question. Please stop in again soon!

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