A Solution to Hide Septic Tank Lids

June 9, 2012

I was recently asked by a client what to do with an area that has exposed septic tank lids, so I thought I would share how I helped a client solve this problem several years ago. It is important to be able to access these lids but that does not mean that you have to look at these unsightly things.  Here is how we solved the problem for this client…

Horkin before 1

Unsightly septic lids should not be the focal point of your garden!

First we weeded and cleaned up the area.


The area cleaned up and ready for planting

Next we planted low-growing, spreading grasses and perennials. Afterward we top-dressed the area with a nutrient-rich composted mulch and laid an inch or so of the mulch over the lids as well.


The newly planted area (with a terracotta pot placeholder)

We created a focal point by placing a new large urn right on top of one of the lids.  Another option would be a bird bath, sculpture, or other piece of garden art.


Plants have started to fill in 6 months later

This is the area after one year of growth. You can’t even see the lids!

Horkin 6-09 (12)

One year later…no lids to be seen!

The Japanese Forrest Grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’) is planted in a ‘wave’ in between the lids and does a great job of hiding them with its low-growing cascading habit.

Horkin 6-09 (14)

Another view, one year later


Do you have other solutions you have used to hide septic tank lids?  Comments or feedback? Please feel free to leave them in the space below!


14 comments... (add a comment)

  1. Donna

    This is a problem that I am facing in an a turf area between garden beds. It would not work in my situation to landscape as described as it’s an area we need to keep open. Though I haven’t done it yet I’m thinking of calling in an artist that I’ve had experience with to paint the lids in such a way that they blend in with the grass rather than stick out like sore thumbs. The person is a mural artist who has helped me out before in painting touch ups on a patio table with a beautiful, hard to replicate paint finish.

  2. Kat

    Love this! Anyone know the names of the plants used?

    • Heidi

      Hi Kat,
      The grass that we used is Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’. Other plants include Astilbe, Leucothoe and Stella De Oro daylily.

  3. Louann

    If those are the lids is this landscaping directly over the tank? I’ve heard there are some shallow root options that can be planted instead of grass over a septic tank?

  4. Sheryl

    This really looks very nice! We have the same situation with 3 lids together. My concern is whether or not the plants are damaged and the mulch becomes a problem when the lids are removed for cleaning of the system. Our township requires cleaning every 3 yrs.

    • Heidi

      The plants should not be damages with routine maintenance Sheryl, and there is just a thin layer of mulch over the lids so they are easy to find.

  5. Christa Porter

    Hi – Is this septic garden in the front or back of the house? I have one in the front yard.

    • Heidi

      This is in the back of the house Christine, but the same solutions could be applied in the front of the house.

      • Christa

        Ok thanks. I’ll give it a try. I just can’t figure out why, when the house was built, would someone put something so ugly in the front of the house instead of the back. Oh well.

  6. I live close to the water and we have a 2′ water table. My cesspool area is very large (10′ – 12′ in diameter) and always mushy. Because the area is so large, I can’t think of any way to hide it, and since it is drained every summer, I can’t plant anything over it. It is very obvious because the grass in that circle is always greener than the rest of my lawn. Any suggestions?

  7. Donna

    What kind of shrubs can be planted around the septic tank lids and vents. The septic system is in the front of the house. We have a large front yard with nothing but grass at this time. – Need to hide vents and covers and somehow break up the front of the house. We cannot plant trees in the front of the house. Any ideas would be appreciated.

    • Heidi

      Hi Donna,

      It’s difficult to specify actual plant material without knowing more about the size of the space and exposure but in general grasses, ground covers, small perennials and other shallow rooted plants work best.


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