DRAINFIELD: THE BASICS
What is a drainfield? Septic drainfields, are also called leach fields or leach drains, and are subsurface wastewater disposal facilities used to remove contaminants and impurities from the liquid that emerges after anaerobic digestion in a septic tank.
DOS AND DONTS OF DRAINFIELD MAINTENANCE FOR A HEALTHY SEPTIC SYSTEM
The drainfield is a vital part of your septic system. Having the right landscaping on and around your system is important, as tree and shrubbery roots can grow into the drain lines. Also, other heavy items like cars and livestock can break drain lines. Strong roots and heavy items can cause the drainfield to fail. And if the drainfield fails, your system fails.
There are several resources available for septic system owners on the EPA website. This post is about drainfield maintenance and things to avoid doing near your drainfield. If you're a first-time septic system owner you may consider using these one-pagers to print out and have handy around the house or in the garage - as a reminder.
- Do Your Part, Be Septic Smart: The Do's and Don'ts of Your Septic System and
- Do Your Part, Be Septic Smart - a picture of the house and yard with septic tips including "shield your field."
- Proper Landscaping On and Around Your Septic System
SHIELD YOUR FIELD (PROTECT YOUR DRAINFIELD)
DO: Divert rain and surface water away and avoid parking vehicles and planting trees on your drainfield.
DRAINFIELD DO'S and DON'TS
• Plant a vegetable garden on or near the drainfield.
• Put plastic sheets, bark, gravel or other fill over the drainfield.
• Reshape or fill the ground surface over the drainfield and reserve area. However, just adding topsoil is generally OK if it isn’t more than a couple inches.
• Make ponds on or near the septic system and the reserve area.
• Plant grass or keep existing native vegetation. These are the best covers for your drainfield.
• Direct all surface drainage away from the septic system.
• Use shallow-rooted plants (see plant list above). Tree and shrub roots can grow into the drainlines, clogging and breaking them.
• Avoid water-loving plants and trees.
• Make sure the tank lid is secure.
CLEAR SEPTIC AREA OF:
Here are some tips to keep your drainfield out of harm’s way.
Locate your septic tank and drainfield. Then make sure the area is clear of:
• Underground sprinkler lines
• Decks and patios
• Sports courts
• Storage sheds
• Swing sets
• Sand boxes
• Swimming pools
BEST PLANTS FOR YOUR DRAINFIELD
Plant native, drought-tolerant plants. These are some of the best for your septic system and its drainfield:
• Ornamental grasses
• Wildflower meadow mixes
Groundcovers for sun:
• Bugleweed (Ajuga)
• Carpet heathers (Calluna Vulgaris)
• Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster)
• Ground ivy (Glechoma)
• Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos)
• Periwinkle (Vinca)
Groundcovers for shade:
• Bunchberry (Cornus)
• Chameleon (Houttuynia)
• Sweet woodruff (Galium Odoratum)
• Wild ginger (Asarum)
• Wintergreen (Gaultheria)
WHY SEPTIC SYSTEMS FAIL
Most septic systems malfunction because of inappropriate design or poor maintenance. Some soil-based systems, those with a drainfield, are installed at sites with inadequate or inappropriate soils, excessive slopes, or high ground water tables. These conditions can cause hydraulic failures and contamination of nearby water sources.
Failure to perform routine maintenance can cause solids in the tank to migrate into the drain field and clog the system. Regular maintenance, such as pumping out the septic tank, should be done at least every three to five years. (How Often to Pump My Septic Tank?) Also, being conservative with water and product use will reduce the load to the system and add to longevity. (SAVE MONEY ON SEPTIC EXPENSES BY MANAGING WATER USE)
For More Posts About Proper Care of Your Drainfield and Septic Tank:
- The easy basics of septic system care: SEPTIC TANKS: DO’S AND DON’TS OF YOUR SEPTIC SYSTEM
- Learn how reducing water usage can help: SAVE MONEY ON SEPTIC EXPENSES BY MANAGING WATER USE
- How often to pump my septic tank: HOW OFTEN TO PUMP SEPTIC TANK FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR?
- Find out if septic tank additives can help reduce how often you get your septic tank pumped: ARE SEPTIC TANK ADDITIVES NECESSARY?
- Answer if wipes are having an impact on need for septic pumping: SEPTIC EMERGENCY: FLUSHABLE WIPES CAN RUIN A PARTY
For more tips on maintaining the health of your septic system, pumping, cleaning, inspecting or repairing your septic tank, call or text us at (330)391-5551.
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We service the Northern Ohio area including Erie, Lorain, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit and Wayne counties. Our family-owned septic company is the one to call for all of your emergency septic tank services, including septic tank pumping. We can work around your schedule when it's convenient for you, including working on weekends and evenings.
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