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Does anyone know how close to a well or septic drainfield can I safely plant a weeping willow? I wanted to plant a willow tree on a hillside, halfway between my well and drainfield. My propsed site is where there is a seep that keeps the ground wet fall, winter and spring. Thanks
How much distance are we talking about? Willows have extremely invasive roots so I don't think you'd want them getting into your septic area, and unless you have a very large yard I suspect you're probably too close.
The site where I wanted to plant the willow is on a spring seep, I was hoping the tree would soak up the water in that spot. It is about 35 feet up hill from the drainfield. I guess I will look for a moisture loving tree with a less invasive root system. (It will also need to be acid tolerant) Any suggestions...maybe a birch?
Unfortunately I don't think having a tree there is going to make much of a difference on the water. Even water loving trees only need so much water to live and just because it's a tree that doesn't mind having wet feet doesn't mean it's going to sit there and drink up all that water. If you want to plant things there then by all means do so, but if the only reason you're planting things is because you want to get rid of the standing water it's not going to do the job for you so I wouldn't waste your time.
I'm not sure if birches have invasive roots or not, hopefully someone else will know. But tree roots can extend 35 ft eventually, so personally I'd consider some shrubs, or plant a rain garden or something there instead rather than take a chance on messing up your septic.
Unfortunately you can't give a blanket number like 30 feet for something like this...when you're dealing with things like willow trees that have wide spreading invasive roots, 30 feet is too close. But if you have a small well behaved tree/shrub, you could probably plant it even closer than that and have no trouble. So it really depends on what you're planting.
ecrane, I don't think you understand the principles of a rain garden. Those plants are not a waste of time, she could have both her tree and a beautiful garden that will help filter and protect the water that's going into her well.
Lambscaper, if I may suggest, you might want to contact your local extension agent. Explain your problem and I'll bet they can help you with a list of trees/shrubs that grow well in PA in those kind of conditions. Ask them if a tree and a rain garden with native plants is a viable alternative. Rain gardens are designed to help filter and protect the watershed, so if that would work for you it would be a big plus in protecting your well water from any type of contamination. Having lived with a well for over 20 years that's one of the first things on my mind anytime the county is doing spraying or road work. We are very, very careful about what is planted around it and we do not use poisons anywhere close to it.
Nope, never said a rain garden was a waste of time. I actually was the first to suggest it as a good option to consider! What was a waste of time was planting trees and things there hoping that it was going to make all the standing water go away.
Thank you to everyone for their input. I looked at the links about raingardens- very interesting, but not applicable to my situation. I think I will go with "better safe than sorry" and plant some shrubs.
I'm curious why the rain garden isn't applicable to your situation? It sounds to me like it would be a perfect area for one. I'm not trying to say that you have to plant one if you'd rather have shrubs or something, but I don't see why it wouldn't work for you.
The following was taken from the link above that I posted from the University of MN. Link posted again below.
*Do not place trees and shrubs ON the mound; they may be planted at the foot or on side slopes. Frame the mound with trees and shrubs at a distance, but use only herbaceous (non-woody) plants on the mound itself. Trees should be planted a minimum of 20 feet from the edge of the mound. Trees known for seeking water reservoirs, such as poplar, maple, willow and elm, should be planted at least 50 feet from the mound. Shrubs should not be planted on top of the mound.
There is several other recommendations on that opening page under the title: