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Three Plants That Can Cause the Most Damage to Septic Tanks

Properties that don't have access to municipal sewer systems rely on septic systems. Sewage from the properties runs into a tank where the solids separate from the liquid. The solids sink to the bottom of the tank while the liquids are allowed to flow out through perforated pipes into a drain field.

Many property owners choose to put plants in the drain field, which can be a good way to absorb extra moisture, especially in humid areas where evaporation is slow. However, many trees can send their roots down into the septic system to seek out extra water. When that happens, the root system can cause very malodorous and expensive septic tank damage. Here are three trees that should especially be kept away from septic systems.


There's a reason people often associate willow trees with creeks, ponds, and other water bodies. They are water-loving, so they thrive in wet soils. Their roots will seek out the nearest source of water. If that happens to be a septic tank, they could break into the system, causing septic tank damage.


Silver maples are a popular ornamental tree in the Jacksonville area and throughout the southeastern United States because of their ability to thrive in wet soil. Unfortunately, that ability largely stems from their incredibly strong root system, which holds the plants in place, even in less-than-stable soil. Maple roots have been known to buckle concrete sidewalks, so breaking through a concrete or fiberglass septic tank is very doable for these trees.

Poplars and Aspens

Poplars, certain kinds of aspens, and tulip poplars (which is not actually a poplar), like the other trees on this list, have aggressive and fast-growing root systems. They are also some of the fastest-growing plants around, which adds to their popularity as shade trees. To fuel that fast growth, they need a strong and extensive root system. Poplars should be kept at least 100 feet from any septic system components. If they're planted within 50 feet, property owners could see problems in as little as one growing season.

Darrell Crews Septic Tanks is your best resource for professional tips on septic tank care. We have been providing reliable septic tank services to satisfied customers in the Jacksonville area since 2003, and we have seen the septic tank damage that can be caused by aggressive root systems. For more advice on caring for your septic system or to schedule septic tank pumping, call us today at 904.923.1241

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