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Your Best Landscaping Options for Septic Drainfields and Sewer Lines.

Myth: If you have a septic system, your only landscaping option is a large area of turf.

FALSE: There are a wide variety of ground covers and small flowering plants with very shallow roots (as in 2-3 in deep) that can be planted over your drainfield.

Myth: If you are connected to the city sewer system, you have unlimited landscaping options and can plant wherever you like.

FALSE: Just like some homes are connected to septic systems via underground drain lines, so is your home connected to the main sewer lines. As both systems use underground pipes, both systems are susceptible to root infiltration, and it’s important to know the location of your sewer lines before you plan your landscaping.

The No-Mow Movement

Recently a no-mow movement has been gaining popularity and is expected to continue growing over the next 10-15 years. As the name suggests, it’s a movement away from traditional lawns and towards natural lawns that provide a habitat for pollinators and other animals and require less water and fewer pesticides and fertilizers, all of which is much better for the environment. Plus, less mowing is always a good thing, right?

No-mow yards fall into four categories:

  1. A naturalized or un-mowed turf grass lawn which is left to grow wild

  2. Low-growing turf grasses, such as eco-grasses, which require little grooming

  3. Native or naturalized landscapes either mixing or replacing turf with native, non-invasive, climate-friendly plants

  4. Edible plants combined with some areas of turf (According to the National Gardening Association, one in three families now grow some of their own food).

We suggest a combination of lawn types depending on how you use your outdoor space.

Since now is the time to plan your spring planting and order the necessary seeds or bulbs, we’ve compiled your best landscaping options for planting around septic drainfields and sewer lines, consisting of commonly used plants that we feel confident about recommending and that thrive in Connecticut.

You’ll want to check your specific septic, sewer and other site conditions, as well as the sun/shade preferences of the various plants before making your selections.

Grasses & Clover

Grass and clover are still the best groundcovers for areas that get a lot of play and use. If you and your family spend a lot of time playing sports together and actively using your lawn, then it makes sense to have a grass-covered area. Since traditional seed or turf lawns require a lot of maintenance, and are actually harmful to the environment, you may consider mixing or replacing your turf with these options:

  • Microclover (which can also be mixed with eco grasses or meadow flowers for a naturalized lawn).

  • Eco-grasses (which are typically a mix of drought-resistant, low-growing grasses such as fescues – some mixes are even meant specifically for septic field use).

Flowering Bulbs

You can create a beautiful, naturalized yard by planting clumps of flowering bulbs and clover in your grass, leaving them to spread naturally and creating a combination of grass lawn and low-growing pollinator-friendly flowers. Remember, flowering bulbs need to complete their growing cycle before you can cut your lawn, so if you are looking to trim back in the summer, wait until they have completely withered away, or you may not get flowers next year.

  • Allium (all kinds)

  • Crocus

  • Bluebell

  • Gladiolus

  • Hyacinth

  • Snowdrop

  • Lily

  • Narcissus

Carpeting & Creeping Perennials

These lovely, low-growing and spreading plants are ideal for light use and some walking. They could also be used for gentle, natural transitions between areas of turf and naturalized areas.

  • Creeping Penstemon

  • Creeping Thyme

  • Blue Star Creeper

  • Native Mosses

  • Creeping Jenny

  • Gold Oregano

  • Carpeting Sedums

  • Carpeting Saxifraga

Taller Perennial Flowers & Grasses

If you’re interested in having meandering paths or thicker areas of foliage, taller perennial flowers and grasses could be what you’re looking for! Please note, we only recommend these plants if your sewer and drain lines are at least 1 foot deep. Otherwise they’ll need to be set back, much like trees and shrubs (see below).

  • Violets

  • Daylilies

  • Poppies

  • Anemones

  • Foxglove

  • Forget-me-not

  • Creeping Woodland Phlox

  • Aster Novae-Angliae

  • Sedums (all kinds)

  • Irises

  • Perennial Gernaiums

  • Wild Ginger

  • Feather Grass

  • Tall Fescue Grass

  • Saxifraga

  • Trillium

  • Yarrow

Remember to give your trees & shrubs plenty of space

Be sure to keep shrubs and trees, which have woody roots that may clog and damage your drain lines, far away from your drainfield and sewer.

How far away?

Well, shrubs should be planted a minimum of 10 feet away. A guideline for minimum planting distance for trees is to use the height of your tree once it matures, then double it. For example, a mature crabapple tree typically reaches about 25 feet. So, you should plant your crabapple trees a minimum of 50 feet from your drainfield or sewer drain line.

Don’t forget to weed

While you won’t have to mow, you will have to weed to prevent invasive plants such as ragweed, thistle and others from crowding out your other plants – and causing you issues with town ordinances.

We’ve got your back

If you do run afoul of weeds invading your pipes, or if you’re due for your scheduled maintenance…we’d love to be the ones you call! We offer state-of-the-art technology, professional and knowledgeable technicians, fair rates and detailed service reports. We’re also open for emergencies 24/7, even weekends and holidays.

Experience the ADB Septic Advantage today. Call us at (860) 432-5996 or visit us online at


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