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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - July 02, 2004

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Septic Systems
Title: Native groundcover plants for septic drain field
Answered by: Stephen Brueggerhoff

QUESTION:

I'd like to plant wildflowers over my newly installed septic drain field, but am told they should not have deep root systems. What would you suggest?

ANSWER:

The best kinds of plants that perform well over a septic drain field are a mix of native grasses, annual wildflowers and a limited number of perennial herbaceous plants with shallow root structures. For an initial planting, I suggest warm season perennial grasses that will establish fairly quickly, providing cover that will compete with invasive primary successional plants, as well as aid in erosion prevention. Sow a mix of regionally appropriate annual/perennial wildflower seed in mid-Fall for Spring blooms. Also, try sowing late successional native plant seed that will attain height when in bloom to add texture and color variety as your native grasses grow long during the summer.
 

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