How to Landscape Near a Septic System

A septic system requires special care and planning.

Landscaping Septic Mounds

The soil around a septic system must be deep enough and of the right density to allow for infiltration of the sewage. The professional who installs your septic system will make sure your septic system adheres to the necessary guidelines. In some cases they may need to make a mound over your septic system, which gives you a unique landscaping challenge. Look at the landscape as a whole to make the septic system part of the landscape.

Step 1

Look at the whole landscape. Plan a line around your landscape that will separate the turf and shrubs or flowerbeds. This should be a continuous, curving line. A septic mound can be incorporated into a landscape by making it a focal point, blending it into its surroundings or creating a screen to hide it completely.

Step 2

Consider planting bushes, shrubs or tall plants to screen a septic mound. If your landscape allows for it, incorporate the septic mound into a flower bed. Plan to use only plants with shallow roots and low water requirements planted directly on the septic mound. Vining or creeping plants can make your septic mound a colorful, unique focal point.

Step 3

Plan any structures around the septic mound. Retaining walls can help camouflage a septic mound but can be placed only uphill of the mound.

Step 4

Place your plants on and around the mound. Wear gloves to minimize your contact with the soil and never till the soil over the septic system.

Landscaping Flat Septic Systems

Step 1

Decide what your landscape goals are. If you want to camouflage the access points, reduce compaction or just make it look like the rest of the landscape, plan accordingly. Also consider that you may need to provide access to the septic system for maintenance, so you don't want to plant flowers or bushes that can't be disturbed or will be barriers to maintenance.

Step 2

Choose plants carefully. Grass is sometimes the best choice, giving you a seamless cover between the lawn and the septic system. Grass also has fairly shallow roots and you can choose grasses that have low water requirements, so you don't have to add water to the area, which can negatively affect the effectiveness of the septic system. If you choose to plant perennials or flowers on the septic system, choose varieties that don't need to be divided or dug up. Avoid disturbing the soil around the septic system and reduce the chances of damage to the pipe as much as possible.

Step 3

Install any structures you plan to use. Benches, birdbaths, birdfeeders and statues can camouflage the access points while making them easy to find and accessible. Do not put any walkways, paving or patios on the septic system. Any activity that will compact the soil over the septic system, including driving, grazing and frequent walking, should be avoided.

Step 4

Place plants around the benches, birdbaths and other items you've installed. Do not till over the septic system. Plant the flowers or bushes shallowly, using a shovel or spade.

Things You Will Need

  • Septic system
  • Gloves
  • Plants
  • Spade or shovel


  • Native plants are often the best choice for septic systems. These plants are low-maintenance and once established seldom need to be disturbed. They also are accustomed to living with the water and soil conditions that occur naturally in your area.
  • Your local extension educator or nursery staff can help you find plants in your area that will suit your needs for landscaping your septic system.


  • Do not plant vegetation that needs irrigation, has deep roots or that you intend to eat over a septic system.

About the Author

A freelancer from South Dakota, Maria Tussing has been writing since 2000. She has been published in "Family Fish & Game," "Wondertime," "Today's Horse" and "Cattle Business Weekly," among other publications. Tussing holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Chadron State College.