Tips & Advice

Septic Tank Buying Guide

What do I need to know before buying a septic system?

Do your homework before investing.

Your first step should be to obtain some advice and investigate what option will best suit your land before you invest!  

If you’re buying land for a new home, before you buy, check into local regulations. Your local council or local land-use consultant should be able to advise you. Many councils use a three-class risk classification scheme (high risk, medium risk and low). Council should inform you what area you fall into, what kind of septic systems are allowed, and whether you must have septic tank filters or septic tank drain fields.

When planning your septic system, you will want to factor in how close your tank and irrigation area is to your neighbouring properties.

Unfortunately, these things do happen from time to time as a result of irregular servicing or faulty tanks (not ours of course!).

For basic leaks, it is actually unlikely that you will notice them as this will occur under the ground. However, blockages and other complications will have much more noticeable signs that will give you a pretty clear indication it is time to get a service, a pump-out, or even have your septic tank replaced.

You will want your septic tank system to be:

  • 15m away from the house, outdoor play areas and BBQ
  • 50m minimum away from water bore (250m away if used as a water supply)
  • 12m uphill or 6m downhill from other properties
  • 100m from streams




Groundwater is easily contaminated. Ensure your septic system is located a safe distance from wells, bores, creeks, lakes and houses. 

Note: Water polluters in NSW can face hefty clean-up notices and fines. Penalties can be up to $120,000 for individuals and $250,000 for corporations for pollution offences under New South Wales law. 


What types of Septic Tanks and Systems are available?

Septic tanks, absorption trenches or leach field style systems are the most common type of septic system used in Australia.

Note, Septic tanks do not kill pathogenic bacteria, viruses or parasites!

Septic tanks turn wastewater into an effluent that must be disinfected via UV exposure, sand filters, wetlands, or leached back into the ground via irrigation or sprinklers. You should take extreme caution with effluent coming into contact with people, food, clothing and pets.

The contents of a healthy septic tank should form 3 layers:

  • A layer of fats (called scum) floats to the surface, helping to prevent odours from escaping and stopping air from entering
  • A clear layer (called effluent), after treatment, flows out the outlet pipe as new wastewater enters.
  • A layer of solids (called sludge or bio-solids) sinks to the bottom and needs to be pumped out periodically.


healthy septic tank


When choosing a septic system, the most important thing to consider is where it will be used, how it will be used and who will use it. A septic system in a weekend holiday home, for example, will get far less use than a septic system in a large, permanently occupied family home. 

The system chosen will largely depend on the suitability of your site for effluent absorption, how many people will live in the home, what area of land is available, what kind of lifestyle the family lives, and what heavy water-use appliances are in the house. 

You should factor in soil type, salt content, local rainfall, and the water table’s depth.


With all that said, here are your typical options:



After the wastewater is turned into effluent in your septic tank, it passes through a sand filter unit before being discharged into your absorption trench. A sand filter is usually a sealed unit about 9 meters long, often with turf growing on the top surface.

Sand filters capture suspended solids and provide an aerobic environment that encourages friendly bacteria that digest waste and reduce pollution. 

Sand filter septic system

These systems are rare, used where soil conditions are less suitable for absorption trenches and where evaporation and transpiration rates normally exceed rainfall.  

After the wastewater is turned into effluent in your septic tank, it passes through perforated pipes into a line gravel bed covered with turf. The water is removed by evaporation and transpiration through the grasses.

Evapotranspiration beds

Reed beds and wetland treatment systems tend to be used in larger industrial-sized sewage treatment plants and not often (if at all) in a domestic application.

Like the other methods, after the wastewater is turned into effluent in your septic tank, it flows out into a lined wetland where reed and aquatic flora and fauna remove the nutrients before being dispersed into the absorption trenches or leach field.

wetland treatment systems

AWTS are fast becoming the most popular choice of septic system used throughout New South Wales, ACT and Victoria. Garden Master septic systems are AWTS and are the systems that we recommend.

AWTS systems can come in a two-tank or single large tank option. Per the other systems, wastewater is collected in a holding septic tank (or section within the single tank option) where solids settle, and anaerobic digestion occurs. The effluent is then moved on to the AWTS tank or section in the single tank option. In the second AWTS tank/section, oxygen is bubbled through the effluent to encourage aerobic bacteria to digest the waste. Finally, the aerated effluent is disinfected using chlorine or ultra-violet light before being pumped to an irrigation area or disbursement. 

Fixed-line drip irrigation systems are usually the preferred method of disbursement, although, in rural areas, some councils also permit the use of low throw spray irrigation on larger properties. Aerated septic systems may also be used to treat greywater to a standard suitable for garden watering of non-food plants. 

People using aerated septic systems are required to enter into a regular maintenance contract for quarterly servicing, which the council may supervise. 




Our Garden Master Elite Secondary Treatment System (STS) has been designed with a large capacity in mind. This will ensure safe and reliable operation even when doing multiple wash loads or when guests stay over.  The last things you want are embarrassing odours emanating from your septic tank.

You will not have to live your life around your wastewater treatment plant, you can have the peace of mind to know that your Garden Master STS is operating quietly and efficiently.

Garden Master Elite – One tank, one hole and one connection, it couldn’t be easier:

garden master AWTS

How much does a Septic System cost?

Septic tank and septic system prices vary depending on the type of system, the size of the home and the location. The average septic tank costs for a four-bedroom home is between $10,000 and $20,000, a one-off fee for installation plus yearly running costs with desludging every three to five years.

Don’t forget to ask for a cost estimate for maintenance and installation when getting quotes on your system. Some septic tank systems require very little maintenance beyond the regular pumping. Others, like AWTS, need you to enter into a standard maintenance contract for quarterly servicing, which the council may supervise. 


What is the process of getting a quote through to installation?

Step 1. Consultation

Before installing your septic system can begin, you will need to establish what design will suit your needs and site. A professional will need to check the soil to ensure that the area is suitable and has enough drainage. They will also check the site for the best locations for the drain field.

Step Two: System Design

Based on your site’s soil composition, location, house size and intended use, a system will be designed based on the best type of septic system for your property. This plan will include the best placement for the drain field and septic tank. While creating this plan, the engineer will meet all local standards and council requirements to ensure that the system complies with all proper standards and regulations.

Step Three: Approval

Once the design is complete, it must be approved. The local health department and local authorities must inspect the plans and ensure that they meet all necessary standards and regulations. They will make sure the layout has been created correctly and that drainage and wastewater treatment will not lead to groundwater contamination. Once the plan has been approved, the local health department will issue a permit to discharge, allowing the installation to begin.

Step Four: Installation

Once the system design has been approved, and the council issues an ‘approval to operate a system of sewage management’ which sets out the basic rules you need to follow to keep the system working well, your septic services company can install your system. A licensed installer will install your system. 

Step Five: Operation and Use

After your system has been installed, the installer will make sure that everything is working correctly. Once the system is working correctly, your installer or another member of your septic services company will explain how your system works and provide you with essential instructions on caring for your new septic system. Before leaving you with your new system, your septic services company will ensure that you fully understand your system and how to use it.


To help choose the best septic system for your needs tailored to your site, it’s an excellent idea to speak with an industry professional.  


Garden Master has been recognised as industry leaders for over 30 years, manufacturing, supplying and servicing quality wastewater treatment systems and septic tanks for thousands of clients across Australia. 

Don’t hesitate to give us a call on 1800 632 582 with any questions!



NSW Department of Local Government. 2000. The Easy Septic Guide. Developed by Social Change Media for the New South Wales Department of Local Government.


Tips & Advice

Leaking From Your Septic Tank – What To Look For

Leaks from your septic tank can be hazardous, but with regular servicing, you would hope this wouldn’t occur.

Unfortunately, these things do happen from time to time as a result of irregular servicing or faulty tanks (not ours of course!).

For basic leaks, it is actually unlikely that you will notice them as this will occur under the ground. However, blockages and other complications will have much more noticeable signs that will give you a pretty clear indication it is time to get a service, a pump out, or even have your septic tank replaced.

Low Liquid Level

This is the most common indicator for a leak under the ground. It is likely that you wouldn’t notice this because you are continually adding liquid to the tank but this can be picked up when thoroughly inspecting the tank. You will be able to notice the liquid level is lower than normal, meaning it is escaping somewhere.

Liquid Flow Back or Pooling Water

If there is a blockage or your septic system is full, you may notice pooling water in the yard. When the tank reaches its capacity, solid waste can clog the pipes, which forces the liquid to the surface. This may look like you’ve had heavy rainfall and the grass is yet to absorb the water. If it does not absorb, it is likely liquid flow back.

Slow Drains

Slow draining water that cannot be fixed using septic safe drain cleaners or unblocking products may be the result of blocked pipes caused by a full tank. Keep an eye on your sinks, bathtub and toilet and pump out your tank if necessary.

Bad Smells

This is typically where you get a sense that something is wrong, even if you can’t see any visible signs. If there are unexplained, unpleasant smells persisting on your property, it’s worth contacting Garden Master to do a service and check for blockages.

Sewage Backup

In this situation, you would be at the critical point where it is time to call in expert help. This will happen in the lowest drains first, so if you have a basement and have noticed a bad smell, check there first. Sewage backup is messy and you should never try to clean it up yourself. Call for professional help immediately.


If you notice any of the above signs or simply feel as though there may be a leak or blockage, the best next step is to call Garden Master Waste Water Solutions. Septic Tank leaks can be unsafe and unsightly; it is always best to call in experts and resolve the situation as soon as possible to avoid further damage or complications.

Garden Master offers septic tank servicing and septic tank cleaning from the Hunter Valley and across the Greater NSW region as well as new septic tank and wastewater system installation throughout NSW, Victoria and ACT.  We’ve also completed commercial projects in the Arhnem Land, the Kimberleys and even Alaska in the USA!


For any enquiries about your existing septic system or to get a free quote on an installation, give us a call on 1800 632 582  or submit an enquiry online.


Tips & Advice

Septic System Do’s & Don’ts

Garden Master septic systems are fully automatic and there is no need for much owner intervention, however there are some simple precautions you should observe for optimal performance.


Follow these tips to maintain your septic tank system and keep it working properly:


  • Avoid using strong acids, alkalis, oils and chemicals in your toilet, bathroom, laundry and kitchen (too much can kill off the working “bugs”).
  • Conserve water to limit the amount that goes into the tank.
  • Use only bio-degradable detergents in the laundry and kitchen.
  • Try to spread wash loads over different days.
  • Try to avoid using the washing machine and shower at the same time. 
  • Front loader washing machines reduce water usage. 
  • Plant trees the appropriate distance from your drainfield to keep roots from growing into your septic system.
  • Have your system serviced every 3 months.
  • Pump out your septic tank every three to five years.


  • Do not use harsh cleaners such as bleaches and anti-bacterial products. Do not pour leftover solutions, acrylic paints etc directly down the drain. 
  • Do not dispose of condoms, sanitary products, dental floss, disposable diapers, kitty litter, facial tissue, paper towel, baby wipes or cigarettes down the toilet or house drains
  • Do not put products such as hairdye, Napisan, Domestos, metho, turps or excess fats into the system.
  • Never  put cooking oils or grease down the kitchen sink and avoid excess solids like food scraps and coffee grounds going down.
  • Avoid planting trees or shrubs on or near a septic tank or field lines.
  • Do not build or pave on or near a septic tank or field lines.
  • Never park or drive on your drainfield.
  • Never turn the system off, even when away on holidays.
Bleaches and antibacterial products are a NO NO! Avoid all products with bleach or ammonia!

safe products to use with a septic tank

Your septic tank is a living ecosystem where bacteria digest waste. Like any living system, it can become sick if it is flooded, poisoned with chemicals, or not looked after. 



Your septic may need attention if any of these conditions occur – 


  • The air around it smells – usually like rotten egg gas. 
  • The ground is damp or soggy, or pools form downhill. 
  • There’s lots of dark green grass growing on or around the absorption area. 
  • The toilet or drains are slow to clear, or keep backing up.
  • There are lots of weeds growing downhill from the absorption area, in nearby drainage channels or on the banks of a nearby waterway.
  • The septic tank has not been checked for over 12 months.
  • The septic tank has not been pumped out (de-sludged) in the past 3-5 years (this is the most common cause of problems – get it pumped!). 


If any of these factors apply, you should act quickly so that the damage, and the cost of repair, does not get any worse. 


Garden Master offers a septic system maintenance and repair service across the Hunter Valley, Mid North Coast, Central Coast and Newcastle regions.  Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need help with your wastewater system! 



NSW Department of Local Government. 2000. The Easy Septic Guide. Developed by Social Change Media for the New South Wales Department of Local Government.


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Tips & Advice

Un-sewered Areas, What Are The Alternatives?

We are encouraged to create a pollutant-free world, and for good reason. If you’ve just purchased a property in an un-sewered area, you might be thinking about installing a new wastewater system, septic tank or you might be thinking the existing one is fine.

If there is an existing septic treatment system, it’s important to note how aged it is and how well it works. Outdated septic tanks do more harm than good. In fact, Aerated Water Waste Treatment Systems will offer real advantages over old systems. Here’s why:


What’s Wrong with Outdated Systems in Un-sewered Areas?

Older septic systems can be costly to use and they also pose a real threat to both water quality and the health of others. Outdated septic tanks may:

  • Be poorly built and designed

  • Have expensive pump out services

  • Leak frequently

  • Be non-compliant with local and state Government Health regulations


Choose an Aerated Waterwaster Treatment System

A residential aerated water waste treatment system is the perfect alternative to outdated septic tanks. The Garden Master Elite System is proven to be one of the most premium aerated waste treatments available. It accepts all waste from the bathroom, toilet, kitchen and laundry before processing it into clean, odor free water. This water is then irrigated onto the garden, meaning your garden is always looking its best and you’re contributing to a sustainable environment.

Septic Tank Water Cycle

How Is an Aerated Wastewater System Installed?

Garden Master’s Elite System is installed with ease and professionalism. Once you have obtained council approval, the system is manufactured exactly to the specifications required for your property. It is then tested thoroughly, delivered, and installed on your site, all as part of the package. The system requires only standard plumbing and electrical connections. It’s serviced every 3 months and extra servicing can be provided in between this time if necessary. A Microcomputer Control Unit will alert you of any problems through a remote control alarm panel conveniently located at the back of the house.


Choose the Garden Master Solution

Garden Master provides environmentally friendly solutions for both commercial and domestic properties across Australia.

We believe wastewater treatment and recycling is not only far more efficient than relying on rainfall but also plays an essential role in relieving the stress put on water usage in Australia and around the world.


With more than 30 years of experience, you can rely on us to provide you with the best wastewater treatment products and services available. We’re available 7 days a week – contact us today to find out more!

Tips & Advice

The Dangers Of Poor Irrigation

A good irrigation system is necessary on any property.

Whether you’re building a new home or figuring out ways to save water and alleviate water damage, it’s important to know just how significant the impact of poor irrigation can be on your home. All homeowners should consider having an excellent quality irrigation system installed. The dangers of poor irrigation follow.


Below are some of ramifications of having poor irrigation:


Damage to Surrounding Concrete and Footpaths

Uncontrolled water from poor irrigation can eventually gather underneath or on top of concrete, causing it to become both aesthetically and structurally damaged. Paths in your garden, driveways, and even footpaths surrounding your home are at risk if they are subjected to continuous water build-up.

Higher Risk of Erosion

Excess water in your garden can cause the runoff of topsoil into surrounding drains. Not only does this significantly impact the environment, but it also means the root system of your lawn and plants is more likely to sustain damage due to losing the nutrients and protection that topsoil gives to them.

Wood Rot and Termites

Poor irrigation may result in rotting wood around your property or home. Termites absolutely love rotting, moist wood so if you’ve got irrigation leaks around wood, you need to think fast and resolve the problem before it causes major structural damage.

Increase in Pests

It’s not just termites that might invade your property if you have poor irrigation. There’s also the chance that you’ll have an increase of spiders and rodents on your property due to the increased moisture.


Contrary to all of the above, if you have an irrigation system that isn’t leaking but is not releasing enough or any water, then you are basically running with no irrigation at all. This can leave your property dry, kill plants and trees in your garden, and leave your lawn looking damaged.


Choose the Garden Master Solution

Garden Master provides environmentally friendly wastewater solutions for both commercial and domestic properties across NSW, Victoria and the ACT and eco sensitive sites across Australia. We believe wastewater treatment and recycling is not only far more efficient than relying on rainfall but also plays an essential role in relieving the stress put on water usage in Australia and around the world.

With more than 30 years of experience, you can rely on us to provide you with the best wastewater treatment products and services available.


We’re available 7 days a week – contact us today to find out more!

Tips & Advice

Water Saving Solutions

The most effective way to conserve water around the house is to first understand where it is being wasted.

In a typical household, most of the water used indoors is used in the bathroom, kitchen and during laundry. There are several little things that can be done to conserve water here.


  • Try to avoid letting water run while washing hands and brushing teeth. This can save 6 litres of water per minute.
  • Avoid taking long showers and install water saving features in faucets and shower heads. These devices can reduce water use by up to 50 percent.
  • Install a dual-flush toilet. Low-flush toilets use far less water per flush compared to conventional toilets.
  • It is also important to avoid overtaxing your system by using a lot of water in a short time period. Try to space out activities requiring heavy water use over several days.
  • Immediately repair any leaking faucets or running toilets.

Kitchen and Laundry

  • Put a plug in the sink if you’re running the tap to wash dishes by hand or rinse fruit and vegetables.
  • Only use the washing machine and the dishwasher when they are full. Otherwise, adjust the water level to match a partial load.
  • Avoid doing laundry all in one day, as this may be harmful to your septic system. By doing several loads in succession, the septic system does not have time to adequately treat wastes.
  • Newer energy-efficient clothes washers use 35 percent less energy and 50 percent less water than a standard model. Look for appliances that display high Energy star ratings.

Most people want to cut back on their utility bills as well as make a difference to the environment. If you’ve ever lived through a drought, you have learnt the importance of saving water and how wasting water and can make a huge impact on your eco footprint. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to save water and many of them can be implemented immediately.

You’ll see a difference in how much is coming out of your pocket to cover bills and you’ll feel better about building a sustainable future for yourself and generations to come.

Here are a few water saving ideas to consider: 

Don’t Underestimate the Small Changes
You might think the only way to save water is to implement big changes but often it’s the smallest habits that add up to make a big contribution to your water usage. Change what you do little by little and you’ll notice the difference.

Get Serious about Reducing Water Usage
If you’re really serious about becoming water wise, you might consider:

  • Investing in water efficient products: Water saving devices on shower heads and water efficient washing machines can greatly impact how much water you use each day.
  • Install a waste water treatment system: Thousands of litres can be wasted when using a watering hose for your garden. An efficient waste water system will recycle all your waste water back into your garden, which will save you a huge amount of money as well as be beneficial to the environment. This will make the greatest positive impact on your water usage.


At Garden Master, we believe in the environmentally friendly water saving solutions that we provide, from our aerated wastewater treatment systems that turn your black water into water safe enough for your lawns to our Greywater Recycling System the ultraGTS. Operating across commercial and domestic properties, our waste water and septic systems can reduce your bills and protect the environment. Rather than relying on rainfall, our systems harness the water that you already use to reduce water usage in Australia and around the world.


Based in the Hunter Valley of NSW, we service Australia wide and have more than 30 years of experience. Trust us to provide you with the best wastewater treatment products and services available. We’re available 7 days a week and you can contact us right now to find out more!

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