Planting Trees And Bushes In The Septic Area

Here’s another great question that we get asked all the time. “Is it safe to plant trees and bushes in the septic area?”

Our normal response is, “No!”  The area around the septic tanks should be kept clear so that the tanks are easily accessible and, more importantly, you do not want the tree roots to enter and damage the tanks, piping, or treatment area.


Your treatment area should be planted in grass and kept as lawn. Trees or bushes should not be planted in or near the treatment area. Industry professionals recommend that trees be kept at least 50 feet away and small trees and shrubs at least 20 feet.

The root system of any tree provides its primary way of absorbing water and nutrients from the soil. Not all tree roots grow in exactly the same way. How that happens is governed by many factors: what species the tree is, where it is growing, annual rainfall amounts, and availability of water. Tree roots naturally seek out the closest and most abundant source of water, which means that if a tree is planted too close to a septic system, its roots will grow in the direction of the wet soil around it.

Tree roots can cause havoc on a system by blocking or even breaking drainage and distribution pipes. Roots can also penetrate the tank, blocking off the inlet or outlet pipes.


Costly repairs can usually be done to remove or slow down the roots, but the best choice is to avoid planting trees and bushes in the septic area.

Blog #10aThe photo at the right shows a root mass we removed from a lift station. The roots entered the tank the size of a pencil next to the inlet pipe. The mass hung in the lift station and grew into the inlet pipe of the lift station causing the water to back up.

If you think you may have a similar root problem in your septic system, give us a call. We can help assess the situation and determine the best course of action.

Tim Frank Septic Tank Cleaning Company has been serving Geauga and the surrounding counties for 47 years. Since 1966, we have been your go to team for all your septic cleaning, maintenance, and repair needs.