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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 - September 18, 2015

From: Beecave, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Septic Systems
Title: Are 'Ice Blue' Arizona Cypress and Desert Willow safe near a septic system?
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I want to plant a screen to hide driveway/cars on our property line that is close to the septic tank(not septic field) and the septic line running from the house. Would it be safe to plant a Ice Blue Arizona Cypress 5' from the fence and 8' from the septic tank? It would be on a slope and in rocky limestone soil. I have already planted desert willow(Chilopsis Linearis) about 3-4' away from the tank and line before realizing that it may not be wise. I have no trees growing near the new septic field. Do I need to move the desert willow? New house and a first time septic system owner.

ANSWER:

Privacy is a wonderful thing.  A septic system problem is less wonderful.

Arizona Cypress makes a very nice large screen plant.  Unfortunately, Arizona Cypress (Hesperocyparis arizonica) and all of its cultivars are poor choices for use near septic systems.  Likewise, Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) is also very prone to invading septic lines and should be moved.

 

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