A septic system on your property means you have control over drainage and disposal of waste water. You also are not under a shared public municipality with its accompanying fees and regulations. A septic tank and its accompanying drain field can last 20 years or more with the right care.
The drain field or leach field is responsible for the absorption of wastewater into the ground. Depending on your soil’s percolation rate and the size of your home, this unique component can occupy a sizeable portion of your property.
Sometimes a drain field shares an area of your yard or property where outdoor activity occurs. Here are some do’s and don’ts regarding activity near your drain field.
Do’s Around the Drain Field
Many property and home owners have no problem sharing a space with a drain field. Often a drain field resembles a smooth green lawn. However, beneath the grass is a complicated system of perforated septic pipes and layers of gravel and soil. For this reason, most drain fields are flat, open areas away from trees, wells, and other bodies of water.
You can engage in a number of activities above a drain field as long as you do not compress, perforate, or disturb the soil above the field.
Children and pets can run and play safely on the grass above the drain field. Your family can walk on a well-maintained drain field without fear of encountering puddles of affluent and dangerous bacteria. Bicycles and tricycles are also acceptable because they are not heavy enough to compress or disturb the soil.
While grass is the best choice for ground cover, other options are acceptable. Low-growing plants with non-invasive roots can grow in place of grass as long as they require no maintenance, fertilizer, or irrigation. A few species that fulfill these requirements and look great are sweet woodruff, lamb’s ear, yarrow, and golden sedge.
Don’ts Around the Drain Field
While a drain field is not completely off-limits to people and pets, some activities harm its ability to function properly. Here are a few things that should never occur near or immediately above this important space.
Heavy traffic compacts the soil in a drain field and could break percolation pipes. Never graze large animals or ride horses on your drain field. Cars, trucks, farm machinery, and other heavy vehicles need to stay away completely.
Not only do heavy weights damage a drain field, so too do permanent covers. Decks, sheds, barns, and other edifices hurt the drain field via compaction. Even cement or gravel walkways block oxygen from reaching the drain field and assisting in the breakdown of bacteria.
You may be tempted to use an extensive drain field to plant vegetables or other types of crops. Unfortunately, above a drain field is the worst place to do so because of the destructive nature of rototilling, fertilizers, irrigation, and deep roots inherent in garden plants. Additionally, your edible vegetables risk exposure to microorganisms from within the drain field.
Landscaping near a drain field is important. The presence of trees, brush, and any invasive plants disrupt the soil in a drain field and block percolation. Plus, drain fields need to remain free from the heavy shade that trees provide. Sunlight is a necessary component in the breakdown of septic bacteria.
Maintain the current landscaping around your drain field when it’s already designed to control runoff from your home and surrounding area. Don’t adjust any slopes or add or remove retaining walls.
If you’re in doubt regarding a certain activity near your drain field, ask an expert first. Abbotts’ Construction Services, Inc., is expert at installing and servicing important septic drain fields and can help you make any changes to your current system. Call us and ask how we can help your septic system last a long time.