An aerobic septic system has many advantages. However, having one can present a homeowner with challenging landscaping decisions to make. The candy cane shaped vent pipes sticking up above the grass make wonderful Christmas lawn ornaments in December with a little red ribbon, but leaves the eyesores unadorned for 11 months. With a little imagination and whimsy, a homeowner can use the landscaping and other lawn accouterments to disguise an unattractive, but useful septic system.
Covering the Pipe
Several options exist for covering the vent pipes, such as functional birdbaths, fake rocks and Roman columns. Some manufacturers make birdbaths with a pedestal to fit over the vent pipe. Some come with odor-controlling filters, and can be set to a specific height. Fake rocks in various sizes can be arranged over and around the pipes and are generally lightweight, or a more formal garden can be enhanced with a hollow Roman column set over the vents. Other decorative items such as sundials can also be used as a disguise. Birdbaths, fake rocks, and columns made specifically for placement over vent pipes come with air holes to facilitate ventilation.
Other landscaping ideas feature low maintenance elements such as gravel, pavers, rocks, and succulents to surround the visible components of the aerobic system. Several large potted plants situated to block the line of sight to the septic components works nicely too. This provides effective concealment of the access hatch or cap without interfering with the system itself. Moreover, by using potted plants, the root systems remain contained and will not threaten the septic system.
Planting Around the System
Water wise shrubs and tall grasses around the elements provide excellent coverage, too. Low maintenance plantings with fibrous root systems, rather than wide spreading roots, work best around aerobic treatment systems. Azalea, boxwood and rhododendron – in addition to native grasses and non-aggressive vegetation, provide colorful camouflage with very little maintenance, water, or fertilization. However, avoid putting topsoil or plants directly above the access point. In winter months, these can freeze over and limit accessibility to the tank when it needs servicing.
Some care should be exercised when planting around an aerobic treatment system. When planning your landscaping, ensure that trees are planted at least 25 feet away from the drain field. In addition, avoid placing gazebos or heavy landscaping ornaments near the tank, and do not plant vegetables or other edibles within the drain field.