Any suggestions for how to care for the land area directly above a septic tank? I'm a first-time home buyer with a septic tank in my front yard. I'd like it to be aesthetically pleasing and consistent with the rest of the yard but didn't know if there was any special considerations to be aware of (e.g. don't water, mow, seed, etc).


  • Do you mean "above the septic tank" or "above the septic drain field"? – Jay Bazuzi Oct 31 '10 at 2:54
  • How much do you know about the tank? A modern reinforced concrete tank is of no concern other than truly heavy machinery. Some older tanks have rotting steel or wooden covers that make driving a riding lawnmower over it a dubious proposition - though in that case you should mow carefully with a hand mower and put money away to replace it before it fails catastrophically. If (as is usual) it was inspected prior to closing, see what the inspection report says. – Ecnerwal May 27 '14 at 1:29

You can pretty much do anything above a septic tank, as long as you aren't going to be doing major landscaping that requires tractors, heavy equipment, etc..

The one thing you do want to be aware of is the location of any inspection pipes, or manholes that might have a negative effect on mower blades. Trying to mow around these nice yard "features" can be quite frustrating. For our old system, we mulched around the area containing the manholes and inspection pipes (~ 4" white pvc pipe with a cap), and planted a nice flower garden around it. We had our 3-year pumpings scheduled in the early spring before we plant, and if we needed work done on the system, flowers are easy enough to re-plant. There are also some realistic looking fake hollow rocks you can buy- we'll probably do this at our new place, as the covers are in an area not well suited to a flower garden.

  • Brilliant suggestions/feedback as always Mark. Thanks! – Mike B Oct 3 '10 at 23:25
  • 2
    Mark mostly touched on it, but recognize that when you do need to get service done, the area around it will be trampled a bit. Don't put anything too elaborate or delicate in the way, and be prepared to do some fixing after the crew is gone (as well intentioned as they may be, the people that work on septic systems aren't landscapers). – gregmac Jan 30 '11 at 6:17
  • 1
    For a buried manhole cover (which are becoming less common as codes shift, I think) I've always been fond of the circular bed of annual type flowers planted after the first time hunting for the darn thing (almost never where the "map," if any, claims it is - probably why they are becoming less common.) For the above-ground type, flowers around it can disguise it, or you can go for a wishing well or windmill (easily lifted off by two folks - not a heavy one) unless you are of a mindset and lack of HOA to park a smallish "Chick Sales" on top of it. Heh, heh. – Ecnerwal May 27 '14 at 1:24
  • 1
    Also, you should not plant trees or shrubs over or too near (35 ft or so for trees) the tank or drain field due to root issues. Stick to grass and flowers. – Ecnerwal May 27 '14 at 1:37

When it comes to make the hatch invisible, I personally use a large flowers vase. Previously I had a human statue (of manageable weight). It adds a nice touch of classic to the garden, and it can be removed easily from the hatch when you require emptying. Unfortunately it is prone to falling when you have a dog or small children. The vase is a much safer solution.

  • Presumably a statue of the Manneken Pis ? – mgb May 25 '11 at 18:21
  • 1
    The Thinker would also work. – Ecnerwal May 27 '14 at 1:41

I wouldn't water the septic drain field. I would leave it dry so it can absorb as much water from the septic as possible.

  • 1
    Unless the leach field has serious problems, this is NEVER an issue. If the lawn needs watering, do so. In fact, if the lawn needs watering, this is a reflection that there is not much water being used by the grass from those leach lines buried deeply under the lawn. – user558 Jan 30 '11 at 10:38

I am looking to cover our ~3 foot diameter cement cover with "green roof" / "green wall" grass. The grass grows upon a substrate designed for a roof or to be hung-on-a-wall. enter link description here

  • The whole point of codes shifting to make the manholes exposed is that they should not be too difficult to find. Without seeing your installation I can't guess if you're going to have a nice visible concrete ring with grass in it or if you'll be making a grass patch that blends with the lawn and disappears the lid - if the latter, rethink that. – Ecnerwal May 27 '14 at 1:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.