Can you landscape over a septic drain field?

Question from Buddy:

Need some expert advice, please. Is it OK to add soil on top of an existing drain field? Our backyard is a slope (of course). We would like to terrace a small part of the yard. It is over a portion of the upper one or two drain trenches. This would add a few inches of soil on 3–4 terraces. Any advice appreciated.

Answer from Jon:

Hey Buddy,

The simple answer is yes. 

To expand just a little, 

  • Be sure to use equipment that will not compact the soil as you are spreading the dirt. We recommend “track” vehicles like a skid steer. Tractors with wheels put more pressure on a smaller space. It’s similar to how a waterbed can be really heavy but, because the weight is displaced over a larger area, it doesn’t put too much pressure on one part of the floor. 
  • Use good soil and plant grass if possible. All of your household wastewater is going out to your septic system, and most of the water will go down through the soil and be purified. However, the roots from plants help to wick some of the water to the top for evaporation.
  • You can plant trees around your system, just be careful about which kind of trees.

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