Septic tank/field

I hope this question isn't too far off topic. If it is I would appreciate suggestions of what other groups might be able to help.
I have a retirement cabin in Tennessee, which will be occupied full time as soon as all the pension/ssa paperwork is complete. I'm trying to precisely locate the septic tank and field - I know generally where they are. I want to put a garden in, and some fencing for a dog run, but don't want to interfere with the operation of this very important system. Does anyone have any feelings about growing a garden in/over the septic field? I don't think the tank has been pumped in the last 10 years. Any feelings on how often this should be done and how to locate the tank access lid?
Thanks, Harry
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hebinwi wrote:

When the weather gets dry, the location of the drain field should show up quite nicely once you begin using it regularly. The tank location probably will, too. :)
If the previous owner can't help, there _should_ be a drawing at the local county health department office who did the inspection. (I know, I lived in TN for nearly 30 years, it's quite possible it wasn't either inspected or if it was they have no records, but it's worth a call.)
It would not be a bad idea to have a tank pumped after 10 yrs just on general principles, but if the cabin was only occupied occasionally, the equivalent usage may only be 2 or 3 yrs of full-time use. Depending on the size of your family and the size of the tank, that's may not be an excessive interval since it sounds as though this is low occupancy by count.
I don't have a problem w/ the veggies over the septic tank. They don't root deeply enough to begin to encroach on the drain field and as long as you don't try to plow a foot deep or more, you're not going to disturb it. Planting trees or shrubs that send out deep roots is another matter, of course.
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dpb wrote: ...

That, of course, was intended to be "drain field"...
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If the county doesn't have records you may be able to find the tank with a metal detector since rebar is used.
Steve.
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You might also try to contact local septic tank companies and try and locate the person who installed / maintained the system. As well as the local building officials and they should have a permit in records for it showing the size,location , etc. in relation to the cabin. As far as planting on top of the septic tank, that probably isn't wise as you need to have access to the tank for maintenance. Growing over the drain field is fine. The tank could possibly be made out of a plastic as some of the new ones are and as such would not be able to be located with a metal detector.
Hope this helps,
Taz hebinwi wrote:

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http://www.inspect-ny.com/septic/septankfind.htm
http://www.mastergardenproducts.com/gardenerscorner/septic_drain_field_gardening.htm That said, the county that I live in, in TX, only allows patchwork turf planting over the leach field (above ground leach field). Doesn't make sense, I know, as the turf all eventually fills in on its own. Check with your municipality governing the leach field constraints in your area.
--
Jonny



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Thanks all. My brother built the cabin about 10 years ago and was the only occupant, except for an occasional visit from freeloaders and fishermen. So, the impact on the tank and field was probably minimal, especially since he limited all to 2 minute showers and one flush per day (just kidding). He passed away last year and we bought it for retirement. The system was designed for "1 bedroom". When my wife and I move in about October the load on the system will definitely increase. I will pump the tank and then do it regularly every 3 years. A lot cheaper than a new field since there is no place to put one on the hills. And, I will look into a drywell for grey water which should allow greater residence time in the tank and much less turbulence. For now the garden will only be for table use, but once my wife starts with her flowers, who knows. Again, thanks for the input. Harry
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If you call to have it pumped, the honey wagon people will find it & dig it open for you. After they finish, tell them to leave it uncovered and buy some 24" man holes from your local concrete company. (Makes it a lot easier to open to be pumped in future years.)
You can locate the field with a steel probe (just a long steel bar) and find where it's wet.

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The tank sucking companies just use a poker rod. Start at the house at he point the pipe exits. Poke the rod down to find the pipe. Follow it out. The tank should be close to the house. Dig away.
--
Steve Barker



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