With spring in full bloom and summer on the horizon, it has most of us heading outdoors to spruce up our yards and gardens. When considering planting any new trees, installing sprinkler systems, or laying a new patio take note of where your septic system lies.

This simple awareness can save you from facing septic tank problems down the road as residents in Rio Bravo, CA are now learning. Two 30 year old coastal redwoods are in talks of being cut down after the homeowners started to notice that the trees were causing septic tank problems.

The Rio Bravo HOA would like to see the trees go in order to relieve the problem. However, the residents would like to see the trees stay; “they’ve been here for 30 years and are over 65 feet tall. They add shade and beauty to our area,” said resident, Jim Hudgins. They are hoping the HOA looks into other options.

One option would be to remove the old tank and place it under the driveway, which was recently done at a newer home down the road. This would not only save the trees and the septic tank but it would also be the less expensive option according to a few bids the residents received for tree removal and tank replacement.

Redwoods have an appropriately large root system that can certainly cause damage to a septic system. Melissa Iger of the Tree Foundation of Kern, who has assessed the trees as “two beautiful, healthy sequoias” said it was a “mistake to put the septic down and then plant trees on top of it.”

Landscape suggestions around Septic Systems

Certain plants, trees, and hard landscapes can destroy drain fields and septic tanks causing expensive repairs, as Iger mentions. Avoid placing garden beds, trees with large/deep roots, bark, irrigation systems, and patios above your septic system. Not only will it make it harder to access your system should you have a problem, but it can also retain extra moisture and damage lines.

Grass is your best option as a ground cover above your septic system. Shallow rooted, low water, and low maintenance plants or flowers can also be used as a landscape medium above your septic. In spring when the snow is melting and rain falls are high, the extra water can often overload the drain field. Grass and shallow rooted plants help absorb any excess moisture that would seep into the ground. intact lawn 300x194 - Two Coastal Redwoods Cause Septic Tank Problems


Do you have a septic story similar to the residents of Rio Bravo? What would you do if you were the homeowner? Would you vote to keep the trees or place the tank under the driveway? According to 23ABC news the HOA is considering all options before any action is taken. Be your own septic system advocate and make sure your septic is safe from harmful landscapes that could send your system into mechanical failure.