Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - May 20, 2013

From: Killen, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Septic Systems, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Shrubs and trees over septic tank in Killen AL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Our church has 5year old blue rug juniper, a crape myrtle and two shrubs I can't identify planted over the septic tank which is surrounded with concrete and asphalt. I am afraid these will cause a problem with the septic system. Should I recommend we remove them and plant something else?

ANSWER:

This is really a plumbing problem, not a plant problem. We will tell you what we know about the plants you know the name of and then see if we can find some information on the septic tank issue.

'Blue Rug' Juniper is apparently a trade name for Juniperus horizontalis (Creeping juniper), which is native to North America but, according to this USDA Plant Profile Map is not native in any of the southern or western states, including Alabama. Lagerstroemia indica (Crape Myrtle) is native to Korea, China and Japan.

Now, on to the septic tank:

From a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer:

"This article from InspectAPedia.com Guide to Planting Trees or Shrubs Over or Near Septic System Components has a lot of information on planting trees and shrubs over septic fields (don't) or distances from those fields to plant trees (you don't have that much space).

Beyond that information, about all we can tell you is what we have told others who wanted to know what they could plant over septic systems and let you go from there. These are all Mr. Smarty Plants answers to previous questions and some have more links for information. These involve different areas of the country and different plants but all are applicable to your question.

June 28, 2010 Planting over septic tank in California

September 2, 2009 Native flowers from Door County WI

January 25, 2009 Plants that will not clog lateral lines with roots from Bulverde, TX

April 10, 2008 Native plants for septic field from Austin, TX"

Please follow any additional links in any of those linked answers. We would suggest you have someone who specializes in septic tank installation visit the site and make recommendations. Damage may already have been done and the sooner you find out about it, the sooner it can be fixed and the less damage will be done.

 

 

More Trees Questions

Replacements for photinia from San Antonio
August 31, 2012 - i just read your response to someone regarding Red Tip shrubs. You just saved me thousands of dollars ! I was getting ready to order over 250 of these to line my 2.5 acre fence line. What shrub would ...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting time for Smoketree in Quebec
September 14, 2006 - I would like to transplant my smoke tree. It is two years old. When would be the best time of the year to transplant. I live in Zone 4.
view the full question and answer

Revegetating a hillside in western Washington state
October 10, 2012 - Removing several downed trees across my dock demolished the native plants growing on the hillside and the contractor pulled out their remains. The area faces east on an open freshwater bay. Close to...
view the full question and answer

Oak trees losing leaves in Longview, Texas
August 18, 2009 - One of my oak trees is losing its leaves (it is the first week in August). They are turning brown and falling at an alarming rate. The ground under this tree is covered, but my other trees seem unaffe...
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in pecan tree in Garner NC
July 19, 2012 - I transplanted a pecan tree about 3 weeks ago & been watering it 3 times a day. The leaves are turning brown & crumbly before I water it. After I water it, the leaves are brown but I can scratch the t...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.