En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
2 ratings

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

QUESTION:

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!

ANSWER:

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Septic Systems Questions

Native plants for septic system in Massachusetts
February 04, 2009 - What native plants can grow on a septic mound safely for the septic system?
view the full question and answer

Tree roots in sewer from Paragould AR
September 30, 2012 - I have beautiful pecan trees, an apple in the back yard, a pine on the west side of the house and pecan trees in the front yard. Two trees are interrupting my sewer systems (at least one in the back y...
view the full question and answer

Native groundcover plants for septic drain field
July 02, 2004 - 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?
view the full question and answer

Native flowers for Door County, Wisconsin
September 02, 2009 - We recently were required to put in a new septic system on our vacation property in Door County, WI. This left us with a clearing on our wooded lot where the septic field is now located. The installer...
view the full question and answer

Wildflower field for sewage leach field from Olga Washington
August 01, 2012 - I am interested in planting a large native wildflower field at a resort in the San Juan Islands in Washington State. It would be over a sewage leach field for many cabins and bathrooms. Are there any ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center