Reed Beds

Reed Beds

What are reed beds?

Reed bed treatment systems are wetland ecosystems that have been artificially engineered and are self contained. They are designed to optimise the microbiological, chemical and physical processes that occur naturally in wetlands.

Do I need a reed bed?

That depends on your site and current treatment system. Reed beds can be used as a complete treatment system or as a way of improving the standard of treated effluent that your system produces. In this case the reed bed processes effluent as it flows out of your current treatment system. They can be a very cost effective and environmentally friendly solution.

How do they work?

Reed beds work by the cleansing power of three main elements: soil dwelling microbes, the physical and chemical properties of the base material (soil, sand or gravel), and finally the plants themselves. The choice of base material is dependent upon the particular type of waste that needs processing.


The plants have three functions: Firstly, their very extensive root systems create channels for the wastewater to pass through. Secondly, the roots introduce oxygen down into the body of soil and provide an environment where aerobic bacteria can thrive. Finally, the plants themselves take up a certain amount of nutrients from the wastewater, which acts as a natural fertiliser.

How does the process work?

Effluent is first fed into a septic tank to remove solid material, which would choke the root system of the reed-bed. An already installed septic tank may be suitable. The feeder tank collects liquid effluent from the septic tank by simple gravity flow, but the flow onto the surface of or through the reed-bed is often controlled by a pump. Only the liquid is allowed to pass into the reed bed for treatment. The reed bed is acting as a fixed-film filter with built in sedimentation.


Although treatment occurs all year round within the reed bed, the level of treatment is increased during the summer months. Reed beds are suitable for seasonally affected applications such as peak summer loads from campsites, as well as for normal household use. The treated effluent from the reed bed will need to be discharged to ground, ditch or watercourse. This will be subject to consent from the relevant authority (The Environment Agency (EA) in England.

Can You Help?

Yes we can. We are happy to advise on whether a reed bed will be of benefit to you, it’s size, cost and so on.

Lancs Tanks specialise in the installation, servicing and maintenance of septic tanks, treatment plants and pump stations. Contact us today on 01772 433 459