Septic tank maintenance

Dead grass over drain field

Walking along your neighborhood is something that you do during your spare time. You even take your dachshund with you so that both of you would get fit.  That weekend, as you went on with your regular route, you noticed the yard of your neighbors. Most of them looked deep green, like the rain has just finished showering them. You looked up and just saw a clear blue sky with white clouds floating by. The sun was also shining brightly that day so you know that it didn’t rain. And besides, you always had a stomach ache whenever it was about to rain. You didn’t, so, it must’ve stayed this way all morning. The air was absolutely clear of the damp soil smell. Why were most of the yards that wet?

Your mind was still boggled by your neighbors’ yards. When you went to your yard after your shower, you decided to bring out your coffee and buttered toast as well. You stayed in the corner where the large maple tree towered over your lounge chair. Your dachshund played in the yard with his new toy while you enjoyed your breakfast and morning paper. When your dog barked, you looked up and saw him sniffing the dead grass on your yard. Your eyes widened. Why did you have dead grass on your yard? You always had them watered and fertilized. Then it hit you. The dead grass was directly on your drain field. This wasn’t explained by your septic expert yet. You were nervous about it because the grass might be dying because of the toxicity of the wastewater. Immediately, you dialed your septic professional’s number.

Why would the grass die on top of your drain field? The septic system collects wastewater from your household and collects it in the septic tank. Here, the solid wastes are degraded by the anaerobic bacteria so that the effluent may be rid of these as they get absorbed in the drain field.  The drain field is the final area where the wastewater will be treated. This is where the pre-treated effluent will be purified and be rid of the pathogens and contaminants before it is distributed into the surrounding environment. This task is performed by the aerobic bacteria. This second type of bacteria in your septic system needs oxygen to proliferate and function well.

The top of the drain field should only have a thin layer of soil so that the effluent will be able to evaporate easily as the sun hits the soil. When the topsoil is dry, there is more oxygen for the aerobic bacteria. This also means that the drain field is absorbing the effluent well and that there are no clogs in the system. If you see soggy grass over your drain field, this is a warning sign because this means that the drain field is not absorbing the effluent anymore. This results to wastewater back up into your home and onto your yard.

When you have dead grass over your drain field, you should not water the dead grass, hoping to revive it. Neither should you add more topsoil to retain more water for the grass. Watering the grass over the drain field will make it hard for the drain field to absorb the outgoing effluent, resulting to wastewater backup. The added soil will indeed retain more water, and therefore lessen the amount of oxygen in the soil for the aerobic bacteria. If you really want to maintain your drain field, just let the dead grass be dead. This would be a very organic sign for you to know if your septic system is still functioning ideally or not.

You should give your dachshund a treat for making you look at the dead grass on your drain field. From that day on, you won’t be boggled by the soggy grass that your neighbors’ yards. You already know which household is really responsible in taking good care of their septic systems. And yours is one of the role models.

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