The Q&A Archives: Planting on Septic Field

Question: I want to develop a raised garden over my septic field on the south side of the house to plant strawberries, about a 6-8' square with 2 more tiers for a tower effect. Is there a problem in using this portion of the septic area as a site for a raised bed? What do I use for drainage on the bottom of the bed and how deep shound it be?

Answer: Unfortunately, it's not a good idea to plant anything but lawn over any part of a septic field--and especially not food crops. Septic fields are designed to provide good drainage off the site; anything you do to change this can cause troubles. Also, septic systems do need periodic maintenance, and you don't want to build anything that will get in the way of this.

At the absolute very most, you might plant some shallow-rooted annual flowers around the edges of your field--but I would check with a local expert (preferably the company that installed the septic system) before doing even that. Especially don't plant any trees or shrubs which have roots that can invade the pipes and cause the system to fail. It's very expensive to remedy this.

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