landscaping

How to Landscape Your Drainfield

Most property owners that have a septic system understand the three hard and fast rules associated with taking care of a drainfield: don’t plant anything over it, don’t build anything over it and don’t park anything over it.

Beyond knowing what NOT to do, there isn’t a lot of information available on what you SHOULD do with it. This article will focus on how to properly landscape your drainfield so it won’t be such an eyesore, while protecting it and keeping it healthy at the same time.

Planting 101

You will hear that you should never add any landscaping to your drainfield other than grass. It’s a good rule of thumb and a great way to prevent property owners from going too far and damaging their system, but the truth is: there are other options besides grass.

Grass is typically recommended for a couple of reasons:

  • no tilling required – just light raking, which should affect the drainfield
  • most varieties of grass don’t need a lot of water, which protects the drainfield from excess water
  • grass doesn’t require a lot of topsoil, which can affect the flow of air and water within the drainfield
  • grass doesn’t have deep roots, protecting the pipes in the drainfield from root wrap and damage

However, there are other plants that have similar needs and attributes, making them a viable choice for planting in your drainfield area as long as there is still access to monitoring points or clean-outs. There are lots of plants that don’t have deep roots and won’t need a lot of topsoil. You can even find plants that don’t need to be watered, that will grow just find in your area without hosing or sprinkling to provide extra water. There are plenty of pants that don’t need to have the ground tilled under before planting into the ground.

Types of Plants to Consider

If your drainfield gets no sun throughout the day, you need to look for plants or seeds that are labeled as “no sun” or “deep shade” on the package. Ask the salesperson at your garden center to direct you to groundcover that doesn’t have a large root system. Plants or seeds that are labeled as partial shade require approximately 4 hours of sun each day, either in the morning or in the afternoon. Groundcover or short plants with small root systems will fit this bill. Again, your garden center salesperson can help you find native plants that will work best in this type of area.

Plants or seeds that are labeled as “full sun” or “all day sun” need a minimum of 8 hours of sun each day. Ornamental grasses and wildflowers work very well in this type of environment. Most drainfields are established in the middle of a yard without any trees or bushes within a 30 foot radius, which means that full sun will likely be what you are looking for in landscaping.

Regardless of where you live, the type of plants that you should consider planting in your drainfield consist of a mixture of native species. Mixing together annual wildflowers, perennial groundcover that features small root systems and a mixture of native grasses that won’t require a lot of water and care will be your best choice. To get started, you should begin with a perennial grass that will establish quickly in the warmer months, which will give you instant cover to prevent erosion. This will also give you a natural defense against native invasive plants (aka weeds) for anything else you decide to plant next.

Wildflower Growing Tips

  • choose seed that is dated for the current year – don’t use old seed
  • choose a mix that is well-suited for our region – stores sometimes carry varieties that aren’t appropriate for Southeastern Massachusetts
  • select your seeds based upon the amount of sun the area will receive
  • pick native seed mixes for best results
  • watch out for weeds in your wildflower mix – look for mixes that are labeled as “no noxious weeds” or “no detectable weeds” to be sure
  • if you already have grass in your drainfield, remove 6×6 inch squares of grass in small area and sow your wildflower seeds there during germination for faster growth
  • sow seeds in late fall for Spring growth or May for late-summer season blooms

Before you begin any landscaping project in your drainfield, check with your trusted septic service technician at All-Clear Septic & Wastewater. If you have any questions or are unsure about what to plant in this area to protect your drainfield from excess water and erosion, just ask. Check into our Preventative Maintenance Program for even more protection for your septic system year-round. Call All-Clear at 508-763-4431 for inspections, service, repairs and advice for customers throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Rejuvenate Your Septic System

We could all use a little rejuvenation. Sometimes all it takes is a tiny makeover, a new haircut or a special outfit – just something to add a little spring to our step. Your septic system is the same way. New technology makes it possible to rejuvenate your septic system and improve its effectiveness, by increasing its hydraulic capacity, and adding years of additional life.

What is Septic Rejuvenation?

Many homeowners don’t realize that there is a process that can rejuvenate septic systems that are considered to be severely failed in just a couple of days. There are lots of products out there on the market that promise to rejuvenate septic systems by aerating the wastewater. There are limits to aerating wastewater because water itself can only be infused with a limited amount of oxygen before it just bubbles up and floats back into the atmostphere.

The process used by All-Clear Septic & Wastewater, which services customers all throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, puts the air directly into the clogging biomat as well as the soils that are adjacent to the system, which is where septic failure actually occurs. By introducing air into this part of the system, the process of rejevenation is faster and much more thorough than it ever could be using wastewater aeration methods. All-Clear has successfully applied this process to septic systems that tried every other method of rejuvenation, including ongoing pre-treatment services.

How Does It Work?

When the air is added to the surrounding soil and the clogging biomat of your septic system, the hydraulic capacity of your septic treatment can get boosted by as much as two or five times what it was before. By increasing efficiency, homeowners are able to reduce the size of their drainfield or leachfield and keep that extra area in reserve for future use.

In addition to residential properties, this technique can even be used for commercial purposes, including laundry facilities, healthcare services, restaurants and other businesses that typically process a lot of waste and use a lot of water. Septic Rejuvenation can be used on any type of septic system including drop, chambers, stone and pipe.

Oxygen is Key to an Efficient Septic System

In addition to using this treatment technique to revive failed septic systems, it can also be used with systems that haven’t failed – yet. Older systems, systems that get a lot of use, or customers that live in areas that are known to have soil issues due to environment or location, can all benefit from Septic Rejuvenation. By adding oxygen to the surrounding soil, you return your septic system to a natural, ideal state of filtration, allowing it to renovate and clean the wastewater of suspended matter and waste solids through the use of micro organisms and nutrients.

Oxygen also helps the soil to maintain a consistent moderate temperature, which is ideal for the treatment of wastewater. When your system gets overloaded with wastewater, due to increased use or changes in the texture and ability of the soil to transfer oxygen, your septic system is at risk of failure. The lower the availability of oxygen, the less micro organisms and nutrients available to assist in proper filtration, which ultimately reduces the hydraulic performance and treatment abilities of your septic system.

Increasing Efficiency and Effectiveness

Septic Rejuvenation helps to maintain the optimal levels of oxygen required for proper filtration in and around the drainfield and leaching system to assure the best possible performance. Because the oxygen levels are increased, as well as the ability of the drainfield to effectively filter solid wastes from the wastewater, property owners are able to reduce the space needed to properly treat their sewage waste. This is extremely helpful in areas that have limited space, as well as naturally wet areas including property that is near lakes, watersheds, wetlands and other bodies of water.

Compared to water, air contains 21,000 times more oxygen. Wastewater can be difficult to full aerate to its maximum capacity, even with pre-treatment systems, due to high levels of total suspended solids. Septic Rejuvenation tackles this problem as well, helping to reduce the biological oxygen demand and remove suspended solids. It has also been proven to increase the pathogen removal rate, which is important for the overall health and safety of the system. By oxygenating the soil, nitrogen is also removed through treatment by as much as 75%, and phosphorus removal is enhanced as well.

Are You Ready for Rejuvenation?

Give your All-Clear representative a call at 508-763-4431 for more detailed information about our Septic Rejuvenation treatment program and for other tips that you can use to increase the effectiveness and longevity of your septic system. Whether your property is located in Southeastern Massachusetts or Rhode Island, All-Clear can help you get your septic system running clean and clear.

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Septic System Basics

A septic system can be a huge financial investment, however if it is properly designed, installed and maintained, it will provide you with years of low-cost and reliable service. A system that is not well-built or maintained can end up costing property owners thousands of dollars to repair or replace when it ultimately fails. By understanding how septic systems work and what is required to properly care for them, homeowners can increase their longevity.

Primary Components

While there are different types of septic systems used throughout the country based upon soil types, site conditions and usage requirements, the gravity fed system is the most common and is considered to be the industry standard. This section will feature information on the basic components included in a standard gravity fed system and what you can expect to find.

  The Septic Tank – Made from fiberglass, concrete or polyethylene, most septic tanks are quite large and are made in either a cylinder or rectangular shape. Buried underground, the purpose of the septic tank is to separate solid waste from wastewater. It then stores and decomposes the solid material before allowing the wastewater to flow into the drainfield. Approximately 50% of solid waste products remain in the tank and must be pumped according to the size of the tank, the number of people using the property’s facilities and overall daily water flow, which is usually about every 3 years on average.

To improve accessibility and the ability for pumping, cleaning and repairs, your septic tank should have a cover that is accessible for inspection and evaluation. Septic services used to have to spend time digging down to the access covers to complete their work, however most septic systems today are supported by secure risers, making it easier to get the job done.

The Drainfield – Once the septic tank does its job by separating the solid waste from the wastewater, the liquid makes its way to the drainfield, which is essentially a network of pipes that are laid in beds of gravel. The pipes are perforated to allow the wastewater to flow through them and down into the soils underneath the drainfield, which is also sometimes called an absorption field or leachfield. How septic systems work is to allow the wastewater to flow first through a distribution box before moving to the drainfield. This helps to more equally disburse the liquid wastewater, which is known as effluent, among the gravel beds where the final steps of sewage treatment take place.

Once the wastewater makes its way through the perforated pipes, down through the gravel layer and down into the soil, it is passed through tiny pore spaces where it is treated by soil microbes before entering the groundwater. This part of the process takes place several feet below the drainfield itself and should be dry, full of oxygen and permeable. Your drainfield should be located on the back side of your property and the size of it depends upon the volume of wastewater flow and the conditions relevant to your local soil.

The Soil – Believe it or not, the soil that is located below the drainfield is where the real filtering magic happens. It provides the final treatment and disposal process for the wastewater that came from your home through your septic tank. Naturally-occurring organisms in the soil treat the liquid wastewater as it passes through, percolating downward and outward before it reaches surface or groundwater.

Obviously the type of soil used here will greatly influence the effect of the drainfield in this process and it must be chosen carefully. Soils that are clay-based are often too dense and tight to allow for proper passage of wastewater, while soil that contains too much gravel might be too coarse to allow for proper filtering and treatment.

Basic Maintenance

The best way to ensure that your septic system is working properly is to contact a local septic service, such as All-Clear Septic & Wastewater located in Acushnet, Massachusetts. They service residential and commercial customers in New Bedford, Fairhaven, Dartmouth, Westport, Fall River, Mattapoisett and all throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. You can ask for a Confidential Voluntary Assessment of your septic system to properly evaluate your equipment and determine the viability of your system, or you can start on a Preventative Maintenance Program that will keep your system working properly through regular monitoring, cleaning and pumping.

Knowing the do’s and don’ts of septic system ownership with regard to biodegradable items that are OK to flush or put down the drains versus non-biodegradable items that can be dangerous for your system is very important. Water conservation, knowledge about garbage disposals, water softeners, cleaning fluids, chemicals and other things that can affect the balance of your septic system is also beneficial. Call All-Clear at 508-763-4431 for information on what you can do to help keep your septic system running clean and clear.

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Water is the Key to Protecting Your Investment

Water is one of the most important things to us here on Planet Earth. Not only does it support life in many forms, but it is also instrumental to our environment in a number of distinct ways. However, when it comes to the proper care of your septic system, water can quickly become the enemy if you don’t understand the role it plays in proper sewage treatment. Excessive water can cause your septic system to fail.

How It Works

A typical septic system has three primary parts, which include the septic tank, the drainfield and the soil. The purpose of the tank is to separate the solid waste from the wastewater, store that waste and then partially decompose it as much as possible. The liquid wastewater, which comes from your laundry, kitchen, bath and toilet, flows into the tank and can stay there for as long as 24-hours before passing on into the drainfield.

This 24-hour time period, which is known as “retention” time, is necessary to allow the solids to properly separate from the liquids in a “sludge” layer and allow lighter particles to float to the top in a “scum” layer. This process works to prevent the drainfield from becoming clogged.

However, if too much water flows into the system from excessive use, the soil under the septic system will not be able absorb all of the water that is used in the home and the rush of wastewater won’t provide enough retention time for the sludge and scum layers to separate. Water conservation is key to prevent the risk of this type of system failure.

Septic System Water Conservation

Getting your family to reduce the amount of water used might sound like a daunting task, but with a little bit of education, preventative maintenance, the installation of a few basic tools and determination on your part, it will all soon become second nature.

Step One – Fix ALL leaks in your home immediately: a slow-dripping faucet can waste as much as 70 gallons of water per year.

Tip: Check for a toilet leak by adding a few drops of food coloring to the tank. Watch to see if the color appears in the bowl. Leaky toilets can waste over 50 gallons of water a day!

Step Two – Install water-saving shower heads, taps and toilets, which can save as much as 12 gallons, 5 gallons and up to 25 gallons respectively, per person each day.

Tip: If you can’t afford to replace your toilets, add a displacement device to your tank, which can save you between 3-25 gallons per person each day.

Step Three – Change the way you do laundry: only do a full load, which will save 20 gallons of water per load, and never use your washing machine and dishwasher at the same time.

Tip: Instead of washing 4 loads of laundry on a Saturday, try spreading out your laundry over a 2-3 day period, only doing 1 or 2 loads each day.

Step Four – Plan ahead: if you are having a party or expecting guests, reduce your water usage a few days before they arrive for adequate septic system water conservation.

Tip: Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator to save water wasted by letting the tap run while waiting for the water to get cold.

Step Five – Divert other waste water from your septic system, such as roof drains, as well as water from hot tubs and water softeners.

Tip: Speak to your All-Clear technician about creating a drywell for your water softener system, which is required by Massachusetts law.

When Should I Call a Professional?

Odors, wet spots, standing liquid and even sewage could surface or appear in the area of your drainfield. Fixtures will drain slowly, you might hear gurgling sounds in your pipes and your plumbing could backup. If any of these conditions occur, you should call a professional septic service to address these issues before they worsen.

Professional Consultations

Call All-Clear Septic & Wastewater for a professional consultation and evaluation of your current septic system. Additional features and upgrades can be added, such as effluent filters and drywells, which can enhance the performance of your septic system and keep it running effectively and efficiently. Contact us at 508-763-4431 and make sure to ask about our Preventative Maintenance Program, which is available for all types of septic systems.We are also available 24/7 in the event of emergency septic system services.