Fruit Trees Near Septic Tanks. Is it a Good Idea?

Though fruit trees can be a great addition to any landscape, you have to be careful in choosing the location, as planting fruit trees near septic tanks can result in havoc.

Here is all you need to know about the relationship between fruit trees and septic tanks.

Is Planting Fruit Trees Near Septic Tanks a Good Idea?

No, planting fruit trees near septic tanks can affect the septic field as well as the quality of fruit. Your priority should be not planting fruit trees near septic tanks.

But if you have no other option than planting fruit trees near a septic field, try to consult a professional and do it properly.

What are the Dangers of Planting Fruit Trees Near Septic Tanks?

Planting fruit trees near septic tanks has numerous dangers. Firstly, it can clog the drainage pipes and cause them to burst. Secondly, it can contaminate the fruit/vegetable growing in that area. Lastly, it can have adverse effects on the soil.

Planting fruit trees near septic tanks can adversely affect the septic field and the trees. Here is what you can expect.


Microbes are an essential part of the soil, and the soil becomes lifeless when deprived of microbes. Fruit trees need soil that is rich in microbes for propagation, and the ground near septic fields lacks this quality.

So, fruit trees would not be able to take up nutrients and microbes as efficiently as they can in natural soil. It can affect the quality of the fruit as well as the growth rate of the plant.

Harmful Microorganisms

Septic tanks release waste into the ground. The waste usually contains harmful microorganisms such as E. coli and Fecal coli. These microorganisms can affect fruit trees negatively. Also, the fruits affected by E. coli can be detrimental to the humans who consume them.

Inedible Fruits

Waste drained from septic tanks contains sewage contaminants. So, the fruits grown from the plants that are in contact with the contaminated water will be harmful to humans. In most cases, the fruit becomes completely inedible.

Failure of Septic Tanks

Planting fruit trees can also be harmful to septic fields, as the roots of some fruit trees are extended. The roots of fruit trees can penetrate deeper into the soil to the areas of the septic tank and affect their functionality.

Also, septic tanks cannot work well in compact soil, and the weight of fruit plants can make the soil compact. Resultantly, the performance of the septic tank will be affected.

What’s the Safe Distance From Septic Tanks to Plant Fruit Trees?

You should not plant fruit trees with less extended root systems anywhere near 10 ft. (3 meters) of the septic tanks. On the other hand, you should plant fruit trees with more extended root systems more than 20 ft. (6 meters) away from the septic tanks.

These measurements are not any specific rule but only a general idea. The right choice is to plant fruit trees as far away from septic tanks as possible but don’t keep them anywhere near the measurements mentioned above.

Are There Any Fruit Trees That You Can Plant Near Septic Tanks?

Your priority should be to avoid planting fruit trees near septic tanks. However, if you have to do that, choose plants with small root systems. So, the root systems don’t interact with the septic tanks. The best examples of such trees are oaks and crabapples.

The roots of your fruit trees can penetrate the septic field. You will have no problem with it as long as the roots of the fruit trees are not in direct contact with the septic tank. If the roots reach the septic tank, they can clog the tank and affect drainage.

Maples are notorious for their clogging properties. So, if you are planning to plant Japanese maple, don’t do that. However, white oaks and crabapples are suitable options. I also advise not to grow other fruit trees near septic tanks.

Whatever fruit tree you are plating near the septic tank will be at a higher risk of viral or bacterial contamination, so think twice before making any decision.

What Plants Can You Plant Near Septic Tanks?

Some of the suitable plants near septic tanks are oaks, olives, palm, cherry, and pine trees. They don’t affect the drainage system of septic fields and are considered safe to be planted near a septic tank.

You have to be careful when selecting trees for planting near septic tanks, as choosing the wrong trees can cause trouble for you.

If your septic field has perforated pipes and the trees you are planting have extended roots, get ready; you will have to spend thousands of dollars on repairing septic tanks, as the roots will mess up their functionality.

Trees like red maples and willows require a large distance between their base and the edge of the septic field. However, the distance between the leach field and the lower base of the soil is less. So, the best choice is to choose plants with small roots.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I plant around my septic tank?

The ideal choice for plants to grow near septic tanks is herbaceous plants with smaller root systems. If your primary purpose is to make the area look greener, you can also use ornamental grass.

Can tree roots affect septic tanks?

Tree roots can affect the drainage system adversely. Roots are usually inclined to grow towards the water, that is, the septic tank pipes. If the roots grow into the pipes and clog them, it can result in pressure build-up and eventually cause them to burst.

How do I protect my septic tank from tree roots?

Copper sulfate is one of the best ways of preventing your septic ranks from tree roots. It can help kill the roots that are growing inside the drainage pipes. Other than killing roots, copper sulfate also discourages the growth of roots into the drainage system.

Can you put a vegetable garden over a septic field?

It is advised not to put a vegetable garden over a septic field. However, if you are determined to do that, keep in mind that the vegetables or fruits grown over or near septic fields have a high chance of contamination by the waste seeping underground.