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Sunday - June 27, 2010

From: Olivet, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Meadow Gardens, Septic Systems, Wildflowers
Title: Wildflower garden for a drain field in Olivet MI
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have a large area that is currently lawn over a drain field. I would like to turn this area into a wild flower garden. Will the wild flower roots, etc. cause any concerns or damages to a drain field? Thank you for your help!


Please begin by reading our How-To Article Meadow Gardening. Native wildflowers and grasses are the best possible cover for a drain field. They have fibrous roots which will help hold the soil and permit the plants to take up some moisture from the drain field, but will not have woody roots like shrubs and trees. We never recommend woody plants over a drain field or any sort of septic system. Those plants are going to grow long, sturdy roots and aim straight for the moisture in the ground. In the process of doing so, they can mess up a drainfield, crack drain pipes and block the process. Perennial grasses and both perennial and annual wildflowers will keep nearly continuous coverage. Basically, you are establishing a prairie and in all prairies the grasses will eventually take over. To prevent this, you will need to control where the grasses spread and keep adding wildflower seed, or let the wildflowers reseed themselves by not mowing until the seeds have dropped.

We will go to our Recommended Species section and select some wildflowers, both perennial and annual, and grasses, all native in and around the Eaton County area, in USDA Hardiness Zone 5a to 5b. You can follow each link to the page on that plant to find out what amount of sun it needs, soil moisture, propagation instructions, even bloom time and color. You can use the same technique to make more selections.

Annual Wildflowers for Eaton County MI:

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan)

Viola sororia (common blue violet)

Perennial Wildflowers for Eaton County MI:

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Caltha palustris (yellow marsh marigold)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Gentiana andrewsii (closed bottle gentian)

Geranium maculatum (spotted geranium)

Lupinus perennis (sundial lupine)

Grasses for Eaton County MI:

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Muhlenbergia glomerata (spiked muhly)

Phalaris arundinacea (reed canarygrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Tridens flavus (purpletop tridens)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Rudbeckia hirta

Viola sororia

Aquilegia canadensis

Asclepias tuberosa

Caltha palustris

Coreopsis lanceolata

Gentiana andrewsii

Geranium maculatum

Lupinus perennis

Andropogon gerardii

Calamagrostis canadensis

Elymus canadensis

Muhlenbergia glomerata

Phalaris arundinacea

Schizachyrium scoparium

Tridens flavus







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