Trees to Avoid Planting Near Your Northern Virginia Septic System

One of the most common causes of septic system failure is root movement and clogging by trees, shrubs, and groundcovers planted too close to the system. Extra levels of nutrients delivered to soils by the drainfield can attract tree and plant roots to the septic system, which can subsequently harm your system’s drainfield, leachfield, seepage bed, or other system components.

So what trees should be planted near your Northern Virginia septic system, and which should stay as far away as possible? The distance needed between trees and septic systems can differ dependent on the tree variety and its normal root range, but the rule of thumb is to keep at least as much distance between the tree and the nearest drainfield component as the anticipated height of the tree at its maturity.

However, many tree species that have deep and aggressive roots should be kept at least 100 feet from the nearest septic component. Those trees include pine, cypress, elm, poplar, beech, eucalyptus, maple, walnut and pepper trees, as well as bamboo, and especially willow trees. Trees with less aggressive root systems — but should still be planted at least the distance of their full maturity — include cherry, crabapple, and dogwood trees, as well as red, scarlet, and white oak trees.

Still unsure about the risks of keeping certain trees and plants near your septic system? Have a willow tree near your Winchester septic system or a maple tree in your Manassas septic area? Contact SES. We’re here to help answer your septic system questions and we offer 24-hour emergency response for system problems. Based in Warrenton, Virginia, we have been inspecting, servicing, maintaining, and repairing residential and commercial Northern Virginia septic systems since 1987.

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