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?
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.
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
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
Hope this helps,
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.
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.
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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