What The Grass Over Your Septic System Can Tell You About Its Status

Posted on: 11 February 2016

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Most homeowners cover their septic system with grass to maintain a pleasant appearance while still providing easy access to the tank below. You may have noticed, however, that the grass over your septic system grows differently than the grass around it. While this may be a normal response to your system, it can also indicate that something is wrong. Understanding how your septic tank interacts with the grass above it can give you some valuable insights into its overall condition and any problems that may be developing. 

Lush, Abundant Grass

When your septic system begins to leak, nutrient-rich waste-water slowly seeps up to the surface, where it is absorbed by your lawn. This can lead to happy, healthy grass, but it probably means bad news for your system. When the absorption field for your system is overloaded with water, the ground becomes saturated, allowing waste to reach the surface before it can be safely dispersed. You may just need to have your tank pumped, but it could also need to be replaced or resized to accommodate your household's demands and catch leaks before they become a bigger issue. 

Burned and Yellow Grass

In other cases, the grass above your septic tank may dry out and go dormant before other areas, leaving yellow, balding patches over the tank. This is a natural response to the tank below, which can cause drainage troubles and leave the affected grass gasping for water. Dormant grass in the summer is nothing to worry about and a sign that your system is working as intended. Occasionally, the grass does not only go dormant but actually dies. This could be caused by methane gas and nitrates leeching into the soil from the system. Test the soil at your local agricultural co-op to get a better idea of how its contents are leading to your dead and dormant grass. 

Regular, Green Grass

If you're lucky, your septic tank's grass may not differ much at all from the rest of the lawn. This is especially common in systems that are set deeper into the ground, but it may not always indicate a healthy septic field. Because grass tends to dry out faster over a septic tank, you may still be dealing with moderate leaks, but as a general rule, healthy grass is nothing to worry about. 

Waterlogged, Smelly Grass

The worst-case scenario when it comes to the grass over your septic field is visible, standing water accompanied by a foul odor. This is almost certain confirmation that a major leak has occurred, and you should contact your sanitation company like Zeb Watts Septic & Underground, Inc. as quickly as possible to ensure the safety of your family and neighbors. By paying attention to your lawn and its health, you should be able to catch these problems before they transform into full-blown disasters.