A Homeowner's Guide To Roots And Drainfields

Posted on: 31 March 2020


The drainfield is more than just an open space on your property. It is a vital part of your septic system. Without it, the effluent that flows from the septic tank wouldn't be able to break down properly, and you would end up with standing sewage in your yard. A drainfield must remain porous and drain well, but the roots from trees and shrubs can undermine this. Roots tend to seek out areas of high nutrition and moisture, both elements that are readily available in a drainfield. The following can help you spot and prevent root problems.

Signs of Root Problems

Root issues don't happen overnight, so you should be able to catch problems early if you stay vigilant for the symptoms of root invasion in the drainfield.

Visible growth: There should be no trees or shrubs growing over the drainfield, but sometimes plants take root on their own. Know the exact borders of your field and watch them closely so you can remove any larger plants that sprout up before they cause drainfield damage.

Standing water: Roots cause compaction in a drainfield, which means the effluent can't drain through properly. The result is standing water in the drainfield. There may be visible pooling, or you might notice that the ground feels wetter and spongier than it should.

Overly green grass: Most drainfields are covered in a lawn, pasture grass, or herbaceous meadow plants. If these plants become much greener than the surrounding ground, then the effluent is not draining through correctly. Often, this is the result of root compaction within the field.

Root Prevention Techniques

Fortunately, there are a few techniques that you can use to prevent roots from invading the drainfield.

Root Barriers: Root barriers are made of heavy plastic or metal. They resemble flat panels, which are placed into the ground perpendicular to the soil surface. Installing root barriers around your drainfield can prevent tree roots from neighboring areas of your property from making their way into the drainfield.

Inspection and Removal: Certain trees, like maple, spread seeds far and wide. This means that a tree may take root in your field without your knowledge. Take the time to inspect your drainfield regularly so that you can pull up these small tree seedlings before they have a chance to root.

Even with your best efforts, some roots may still invade the drainfield. Contact a septic tank drainfield repair service promptly if you suspect a problem.