How to hide the ugly septic cap?

SheeshareeIIMarch 30, 2009

It's finally warming up here and we're ready to put in a sidewalk and do some landscaping.

We have a small sandmound in the front yard. Not very attractive but I didn't get to choose where it perc tested. We had to face the house the way we did due to other things we wanted to do with the back yard etc and so forth.

DH and I are having differences in opinions on what to do with the cap you see in the pics. He originally said stick a wishing well over it. I said no. I said fountain and plant green grassy stuff around it. He said no to messing with wiring out to it. He said bird bath. I said fine but have yet to find an attractive one. They're all blah looking or really small. He saw one he liked that I believe is stained concrete... it's OK but I think the size should be larger vs. smaller and once the sidewalk is in you'll be pretty close to it.

So what do you think we should do to cover the ugly?

Here are the pics. Please excuse the ugly yard. We have a lot of work to do. The grass hasn't taken root everywhere and there's weeds goin on.

*Yes I would like to paint the front door at some point and change out the lights.

from front porch


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My son's neighbor has their septic in the front yard too, and she planted some of that tall ornamental grass around it and stuck in some decoative objects (I've only seen it from afar, they each have 5 acres), but it's very pretty from the road. The tall grasses gives it height and it doesn't look like it's hiding something.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 11:30PM
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I would plan your overall landscape first and work the area the cap is in into your design. My septic has two caps and it's part of a large bed next to the shop. Several shrubs and a small tree are within the bed and a layer of mulch hides the caps. If you want your caps showing (for easy access) you could paint them a dark color to match the soil/mulch.

I appears the soil has settled in the area of your tank so I would add soil to build it up just below the tank lid. I would then make a large, irregular bed that had small trees, shrubs, or both. When laying out your plans......just make sure one can easily access the lid when you need the tank pumped.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 2:00AM
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We have a septic system with a cap, too. I don't know about yours, but the ssptic people have to have a straight and easy access to that cap when they pump ours out once every year or so. After 15 years, I can tell you that it will be a PIA to try and access it through tall grasses and not make you very popular with the pumping people. What about one of those fake rocks that are made to cover up these? You could put in a flower bed around it, with the rock covering the cap itself. I'd just leave a clear access with flagstone or whatever to the cap, as the pumping guys will walk all over any flowers in their way. Are you familiar with septic systems? The big hose they use to pump out your system usually is laid out in a straight line from the truck to the cap. You need to keep that in mind when planning your access to it.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 11:31AM
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Spray paint it! Try Krylon spray paint ....

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 11:48AM
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Lynn is correct, If you have not lived with a septic tank before, there is much to learn unless you want the "REAL" lesson when you least expect it. Our's is our baby, a family member, like a pet, we respect, feed and lovingly care for it on a daily basis. Grey water is recycled for gardening and only black water enters the tank. NEVER, any bleach or chemicals are allowed that could kill the good micro bacterias. No strange papers or things that could risk clogging of any way, shape or form. Planting is with care, because you do not want roots seeking their way into a pipe, the grow and fill to clog and even burst the pipes.
If I had a cap, I think I would make it a sundial and then use its size/shape as a templet for the walk way and hose, when needed. Absolutely nothing that would slow down help in an emergency. Please believe me, anyone who has had their baby septic pet get sick and upchuck all over inside their home, has never let it happen again!
OH, someone has a framed expression for guest in their powder room that was perfect, was it acountryfarm? I'll have a look to see if I can find it.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 12:04PM
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Lynn - This is our first house and I've never had to deal with the pumping thing. I did wonder how messed up the tall grass we would plant around it would get.

See the 1st pic to the left? That's our beautiful new fake rock for over the other cap. I thought two would be too much?

This might sound stupid but what colors would you spray paint it? Different greens?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 12:05PM
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There are different types of septic systems but ours is a large tank with two openings. There is a large pipe that runs from the house to the septic and another that takes fluids from the septic to the leach field. How often it needs to be pumped depends on the size of the septic. Average size for a family home is 1000 gal tank and it needs to be pumped every 5 yrs. Ours is 1500 gal and can go 7 yrs.

You should find out what type system you have and whether you have a leach field. That will determine what can be planted around it. Small, shallow rooted trees and shrubs planted around the tank doesn't cause problems with the system I have. The leach field is another story.....nothing is planted above it except grass/weeds!

BTW, our septic pump guy is very thoughtful about my shrubs and snakes the hose around them, so shrubs shouldn't be a problem but a flower bed would be tough to work around.

I see nothing wrong with another rock, but as I mentioned before, I'd make it all part of the landscape.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 12:32PM
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We bought a decorative wishing well and put it over ours. The well had no bottom, and the sides are high enough to hide the pipe and cap.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 12:43PM
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What you do with this depends somewhat on what style of landscaping you are planning. Because the cap is fairly low to the ground it can be easily hidden with plants. It makes a good base for a statue altho you don't want to choose an extremely heavy one if you need to move it yearly. A cottage style garden would be perfect with your house style so many plants could work.

Another possibility is to put a teepee style trellis over it with plants covering it. Might have to plan your pump-out for when the plants are dormant.

We have a well-head which sticks up almost 2 feet and DH made me a 4' tall rustic birdhouse which fits over it. In the summer the plants grow up around it and hide it so I can put the birdhouse elsewhere then. In the winter it's covered with snow so the birdhouse is really only for spring and fall. Luckily it's not too heavy. Because we live on an acreage a rustic birdhouse is perfect.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 1:45PM
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Some of the hollow "boulders" made to go over things like this are better looking than others, so they are definitely worth looking into. They are heavy enough not to blow away but light enough that two guys can pick even the large one up easily to pump out the tank.

Listen to bodica about the care and feeding of the "pet septic tank", and if you don't have a pump-failure/back-up alarm GET ONE. Luckily our septic cap was a dark greeny-black and flush to the ground to where we could let the soil come over the edge about an inch and let the grass grow - when we had it checked or pumped we just used a trowel to push back the dirt at the edge of the cover and pop it up, but we made sure to leave the middle of the cap bare so we knew where it was. Unattractive as it may have been we stuck a marker next to the cap in the winter so we could find it under snow if necessary. We had the level checked annually - the septic company would stop by sometime when they were in the neighborhood so it didn't cost us anything to have them take a quick peek - because the number of people in the household and the amount of water and solids that enter the system are really much more important than the actual size of the tank. A family of five with a WOH parent, a SAH parent and three kids who are home all day who all shower/bathe daily, run the dishwasher frequently, do lots of laundry and use the toilet many times a day will need much more frequent pumping than a family of two working adults who are both away from home all the day and dry-clean half their wardrobe, even though they have the same size tank.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 3:05PM
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Why can't you put topsoil over it and let the grass grow in? Just have to know where it is (some kind of marker is nice, but you could always just measure precisely where it is, go off the corner of the front step or something that won't change). That's what we've always done (though in this house I had my dad mark the cap with a stake planning to put decorative stepping stone over it, then DH removed the stake!). We only pumped our septic in our old house 2x in 13 years, then 1 more time just b4 we sold since it was supposed to be inspected and it had been a few years, we figured we'd pump at the same time so new owners would be set for probably 10 years (DINKS).

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 4:43PM
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Spray paint it green.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 6:56PM
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Right now you have a brand new house, brand new lawn with, as you say, the grass not really grown in yet, no landscaping or hardscaping to speak of... and so the septic cap has all the attention (especially in your mind, understandably so.) But once you put other things in the yard, they will take the attention and the cap won't seem so prominant, especially if you spray paint it or loosely landscape around it as others have suggested, leaving clear access to it.

We suburban dwellers have a similar situation with all the electric and cable boxes sticking up out of our lawns. In the old days it was telephone and electric poles and wires, LOL. You just learn to look past it, it's part of civilization.

I guess if you spray it green in the summer, you'll have to spray it dead-grass color in the winter.

You ahve a beautiful piece of property, by the way!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 8:05PM
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I'm finally now getting to read these better.

We do have a tank alarm. I need to dig the papers out about our tank. I don't even remember what size it is. So caring for my new pet 101 :). . anything else I should know?

We've been bouncing around so many ideas. I feel like I need to slow DH down with this. He's all about plant this and plant that. Says he knows you can't be planting trees near it but I don't know where that cut off line is and I'm not sure if he really does.

I like the idea of the teepee style trellis over it with plants covering it as well. DH said tonight about that birdbath again. It's just too small! Wee little! That fake rock above looked huge in the store. Well you can see in the pic once outside it's not so large anymore. I love statues and stuff but with the style house that it is I wondered if it would be tacky/gaudy to have one. What about a large ceramic urn or something with plants for on top? I was originally all about covering it up with dirt and planting grass. DH didn't want to do that I guess because of it getting ripped up later?. .

Bigdoglover - Thank you! It's still a little sad looking right now but hopefully we'll be sprucing it up soon.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 10:21PM
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wow, my new one is 18 inches out of the ground. YOu are so lucky!! I am going for the sundial or birdfeeder thingee!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 10:25PM
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