InspectAPedia®

PHOTO of a northern Minnesota field where we have ample room to keep septic components well away from the trees - but notice those tire tracks?Tree or Shrub Distances to Septic System FAQs

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

Questions and answers about the proper distances for planting trees or shrubs over or close to septic system components: the septic tank and soakaway bed.

FAQs about how close or how far to keep trees & shrubs from septic system components, particularly the septic drainfield or leach field and the septic tank.

This article series describes the types of trees, shrubs, or similar plants that should or should not be planted over or near septic fields or other septic system components.



Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2017 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.

FAQs on Planting Guidelines for Trees or Shrubs near Septic Systems

Photograph of a tree which can be placed over septic system components

Questions & answers about planting distances for trees near the septic tank or near the septic drainfield, posted originally at TREES or SHRUBS OVER THE SEPTIC FIELD or TANK - topic home.

On 2017-05-22 by (mod) re: Hetz Wintergreen Arborvitae planting distance from septic & poinciana tree distance from septic

Hetz Wintergreen Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Hetz Wintergreen') roots are shallow - 18-24" in depth typically. Keep the tree as far away as the expected diameter of the tree's canoply when it's mature - that's about 5 feet.

Point Sienna tree roots - I think you mean Poinciana trees - are trees to keep at a considerable distance from septic system components, because they can send out very long roots spreading horizontally at 4-10 feet PER YEAR, as well as sending their roots to depths of 10 feet or more!

So in a year and a half a Poinciana can send its roots to a distance three times the above-ground width or diameter of its canopy.

I would keep such a tree 100 feet from the drainfield and septic tank.

On 2017-05-17 by Anonymous

How far from the septic tank can a Point Sienna tree be planted

On 2017-04-30 by Pam

How far away from my septic drainfield can I plant a Blue Spruce?

On 2017-04-28 by (mod) re: Neem tree distance from septic components

Pat,

From my reading I learned that Neem trees can produce a very deep tap root - that could in turn invade a cesspool, speeding its clogging. The tree would in fact be attracted to the cesspool nutrients. Cutting down the Neem tree won't remove the roots, and in fact the tree may re-grow from its stump.

You'd want a Neem tree to be a distance away from a cesspool or septic soakbed that is greater than the spread of its roots or an estimated root spread by the size of its canopy. I'd figure 30 feet might be safe, 10 feet would be at the edge of or into trouble.

If after cutting the tree grows back from the stump, OR if you see roots invading the cesspool, you may have to dig out or remove the root-stump.

On 2017-04-28 by pat

I just emptird my full cesspool there is a 30ft neem tree right next to it... should I cut it down?

I have 30 foot neem tree next to cesspool... should I cut it down?

On 2017-04-21 by (mod) re: when to remove trees from septic area

I hate cutting down nice trees, but with trees over the drainfield of the size you say, their roots have probably already invaded it just as you guess.

Just cutting the trees down won't clear the intrusion of roots. Roots don't do good in a drainfield, they clog it.

I would remove the trees and scope the drainfield lines to see their actual condition -

BUT FIRST let's be darn sure we know just where the drainfield lines run and that they are really near those pines.

On 2017-04-19 by Stug

I have recently purchased a home that has multiple large trees around and two directly over the septic drain field. The two directly above the drain field are white pines. There are other white pines in the area and a few other large trees that I do not know the species. All tress are about 70 ft tall.

My question is, should I cut down the pines planted over the drain field? If the drain field drawing is accurate, the piping for the field is about 36" below grade. I am confident that the roots have infiltrated the drain field piping, but to what extent I do not know. The system drains fine and the soil above and around is relatively hard and low in moisture (per a septic professional). I have not performed any video or other internal inspections to assess the actual damage.

I can only assume the roots are doing some good in consuming water that would otherwise be released to the soil, but at the same time continuing to consume free-drainage area in the piping. If I cut the trees, the water uptake will cease and I'll simply be left with clogged drain pipes with no uptake. If I do not cut them, I am concerned about the soil being too moist and the tree up-rooting in a storm and possibly damaging the house. Not to mention the continued infiltration of the roots into the piping.

Are you able to render a recommendation?

Thank you.

On 2017-04-13 by (mod) re: distance to keep a Witch Hazel tree from the septic

Diana,

From a review of horticultural information we learn that Witch Hazel (family Hamamelidaceae, of which there are multiple varieties and of which Hamamelis virginiana is particularly popular for yards) prefer well-drained soil, have a dense, coarse root system, and "... can take advantage of deep soils" as they use a branching taproot, but - from other sources - are basically a "surface rooting" plant. I think the root differences among Witch Hazels depends on the individual plant species within the family.

The predominant choice (Hamamelis virginiana ) uses a shallow, spreading root system, a fact that suggests that the concern is indeed horizontal distance between the plant and the edge of the drainfield.

Since horticulturists recommend dedicting 20 sq.ft. to the plant, your 25 ft. distance from your witch hazel to the nearest edge of the drainfield is probably ok, though I, being chicken-hearted, would have probably gone for 30 feet or more horizontal distance.

On 2017-04-13 by Diana

I planted a witch hazel about 25 feet from the septic tank. I can't find any information on the root system to see if this will cause a problem in the future. Does anyone know if this distance will be ok.

On 2017-04-12 by (mod) re: Redbud tree distance to septic

Patty,

Redbud trees send out roots at least as far as the diameter of the tree canopy - that's around 15 feet for a mature tree. I'd keep such trees 20-30 feet away from a septic drainfield.

The Redbud tree roots are in most texts as shallow but "opportunistic" - that means that a tap root that finds delicious sewage effluent will doubtless head that way.

On 2017-04-11 by Patty

How close to a septic line can a redbud be planted?

Question: tree distance to septic tank vs. drainfield

(Aug 26, 2014) Anonymous said:

can a plant trees close to the tanks in the ground. my lateral fields are 300 away from the tanks.

Reply:

Yes but ... if there is a leak at the tank or in tank piping the tank or pipes will be invaded by roots. So ... it depends.

Question: How far from a drain-field should I plant a Honey-Crisp apple tree?

(May 2, 2016) surelyready1 said:
How far from a drain-field should I plant a Honey-Crisp apple tree?

Reply: 1.5 x anticipated tree height or about 30 feet for a typical fruit tree, plus safe distance from any aerobic septic effluent sprays

Surely

Most tree root systems extend horizontally for a distance about the same as the tree canopy or crown. Some trees send roots out further. Typically fruit tree roots extend horizontally at least as far as the canopy, but are in the top 12 to 18" of soil depth - making them not a great risk to buried septic drainfield piping.

A rule of thumb I've read for fruit tree root horizontal distance that's different from tree canopy diameter is to use the height of the tree. Assume that roots will extend horizontally for a distance equal to the height of the tree PLUS 1/2 of that height again for every ten years of the tree's age.

So a 20 foot tall apple tree that is 20 years old would have a root spread assumed to be 30 feet out radially from the trunk.

See

Question:Tree Distances from Septic Components for Hazelnut Trees: 50 ft.

Reader question: how far should I keep hazelnut trees from the septic leach field. - anonymous by private email 2017/03/12

Reply:

From our reading, 50 feet from the drainfield ought to avoid any worry of root damage to buried drain lines.

For any food crop, if your septic system uses above-ground spray systems to dispose of septic effluent, as do many aerobic septic systems, take care also that wind-blown septic effluent won't contaminate your hazelnut crop.

See

Tree Distances from Septic Components for Linden Trees: 100 ft.

Reader Question: 6/23/14 Cynthia said:

Are linden trees safe to plant near a septic system?

Reply:

Cynthia

I would keep a linden tree 100 feet from septic components. Linden trees grow to 89-90 feet in height, a size reflected as well in their very extensive root system, making the linden tree likely to invade septic systems if too close.

Tree distances to septic drainfield for Redbud Trees: 20-30 ft.

Question: How close to a septic line can a redbud be planted?

2017/04/11 Patty said:

How close to a septic line can a redbud be planted?

Reply:

Patty,

Redbud trees send out roots at least as far as the diameter of the tree canopy - that's around 15 feet for a mature tree. I'd keep such trees 20-30 feet away from a septic drainfield.

The Redbud tree roots are in most texts as shallow but "opportunistic" - that means that a tap root that finds delicious sewage effluent will doubtless head that way.

Tree distances to septic drainfield for Red Pine / Norway pines: 60 feet

Reader question: Have you any information on Norway PInes and Red Spruce as i have these planted in my yard and am concerned about there potential damaging effects on my septic system.. thanks. They are only 4 feet so far so I can transplant them if need be - Will Treeman (4/11)

Reply: 40-60 feet for a 20-40-year early tree-life range, longer for longer tree life expectancy

According to Pennsylvania State University "The red pine is a native North American tree species sometimes erroneously called the "Norway pine". ... Red pines grow very rapidly for their first 60 or 70 years of life.

They can live for up to 350 years and reach heights of 120 feet and diameters of up to three feet. " [1]

Using a 60-year planning time frame, and our rule of thumb for distances of normall-aggressive-root-system trees from septic drainfields, assuming a 60-foot tree height, I'd keep my red pines (or "Norway pines") sixty feet away from the drainfield. 100 feet would be safer as pines can have aggressive root systems.

Tree Distances from Septic Drainfield for Dwarf Alberta Spruce Trees: 30 feet

10/10/2014 Daryell said:

Dwarf Alberta Spruce Tree distance between leech field?

Reply: Daryell

The roots of a Dwarf Alberta Spruce tree are typically 10-15 feet in all directions from the trunk. 30 feet or more should be a safe distance from the drainfield or soakbed or leach field.

Tree distances from septic drainfield for Red Spruce: 100 ft.

According to the University of Maine's Maine Tree Club, "Red spruce can attain a height of 60-80 feet and a diameter of 1-2 feet. It will occasionally exceed these measurements." Synonyms for red spruce include Yellow Spruce, West Virginia Spruce, Eastern Spruce, He-Balsam" Picea rubens, [2]

So the same rule of thumb as for red pines applies: if you don't want the trees to ever threaten the septic drainfield for the next 30-60 years, promising the trees a long and happy life, keep them 100 feet from septic drainfields.

Note: guessing at the tree root area and health for red spruce is complicated by soil chemistry and nutrients and so guessing root area size based on canopy size is less reliable for this species. [3]

Tree Distances from Septic for Tamarind Trees: 100 ft.

6/22/14 Anonymous said:

How far from drain field should a Lysiloma latisiliquum or false tamarind be planted?

Reply:

We found several authors who described rather aggressive root growth and a need for periodic root pruning in ornamental use of the False Tamarind plant. I'd follow the more aggressive distances given in our tables above, keeping ab out 100 ft. to be safe.

Tamarind trees have both a deep tap root and very aggressive root structures that would be likely to invade and clog a septic drainfield.

Tree distances from septic drainfield for Witch Hazel: 25-30 ft.

Question: I planted a witch hazel about 25 feet from the septic tank.

2017/04/13 Diana said:

I planted a witch hazel about 25 feet from the septic tank. I can't find any information on the root system to see if this will cause a problem in the future. Does anyone know if this distance will be ok.

Reply:

Diana,

From a review of horticultural information we learn that Witch Hazel (family Hamamelidaceae, of which there are multiple varieties and of which Hamamelis virginiana is particularly popular for yards) prefer well-drained soil, have a dense, coarse root system, and "... can take advantage of deep soils" as they use a branching taproot, but - from other sources - are basically a "surface rooting" plant. I think the root differences among Witch Hazels depends on the individual plant species within the family.

The predominant choice (Hamamelis virginiana ) uses a shallow, spreading root system, a fact that suggests that the concern is indeed horizontal distance between the plant and the edge of the drainfield.

Since horticulturists recommend dedicting 20 sq.ft. to the plant, your 25 ft. distance from your witch hazel to the nearest edge of the drainfield is probably ok, though I, being chicken-hearted, would have probably gone for 30 feet or more horizontal distance.

...


Continue reading at ROOT KILLERS in SEWER LINES or SEPTIC PIPES or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see SEPTIC DRAINFIELD FAILURE CAUSES

Or see these

Articles on Plants & Grasses On or Near Septic Systems

Suggested citation for this web page

TREE or SHRUB DISTANCE FROM SEPTIC FAQs at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES: ARTICLE INDEX to SEPTIC SYSTEMS

Or use the SEARCH BOX found below to Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia


...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click to Show or Hide FAQs

Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References

Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman