Country living is a great lifestyle for many people. While planning gardens and orchards, there are certain things you need to keep in mind. For example, most country homes require a septic system for disposal of sewage. While septic systems are fairly efficient, the leach field is an essential element in processing and dispersing the waste water. Because of the possibility of bacteria in the soil, only grass, shallow-rooted flowers, bulbs and meadow grasses are planted directly over the septic system. You should never plant fruits or vegetables on or near a leach field.
How do you locate the septic system? A septic plot plan is always filed with the local Board of Health in Massachusetts, DEM in Rhode Island, New Hampshire DES, and Plumbing Code Enforcement in Maine. Visit your appropriate agency to obtain a copy of your septic system. Measure and mark the perimeter with landscaper’s spray paint. While new construction requires a plot plan, older homes may not have any documents available to indicate the location of the septic tank and leach lines.
Locate the sewer lines leading away from the house. There may be a clean-out, risers or manhole cover indicating the location of the septic tank. Generally, the septic tank is located approximately 10 to 15 feet away from from the house.
Probe with a metal rod, pushing it gently into the ground to locate the gravel drain field. The leach lines usually are 6 to 18 inches below the surface of the soil. Work your way out and away from the house. As you find the perimeter of the drain field, mark it with landscaper’s spray paint.
Measure 10 feet from the outer perimeter of the leach field. Mark the garden’s borders with stakes. Fruits and vegetables should be planted at least 10 feet from a septic system or leach field to avoid bacterial contamination.
Prepare a landscape plan before planting shrubs or trees near a leach field. Non-aggressive shrubs and trees should be planted at a distance equal to the mature height of the plant. Trees with aggressive roots, such as a willow tree, should be planted at least 50 feet from a leach field.
Septic Preservation can answer all your questions on your septic system and help you with all your septic needs throughout New England. They can be reached at 877-678-4279 or visit www.septicpreservation.com