Dealing With Unsightly Septic Tank Accessories in Your Yard
Local regulators control what type of septic tank systems are permitted in each area, and sometimes their rules force septic contractors to install some rather unattractive (ugly) objects in the yards of homes and offices. This page has ideas on how to hide these ugly pipes, boxes, manholes and mounds.
The largest visble portion of many septic systems is a large mound of soil, perhaps 20 ft. wide x 100 ft. long and several feet high. If a mound system is mandated by the local authorities, the design rules will govern how large and how high it must be.
Other than planting grass on a mound or turning it into a motocross track, there is usually not much you can do about it.
One common requirement is PVC vent pipes in the yard. A variety of septic treatment systems use vent pipes, which are often made of white PVC about 3 inches in diameter and bent into a candy-cane shape. A company named The Dirty Bird (and probably others) makes a line of “septic vent concealers,” pedestals which fit over the vent line and change it into a bird bath, sundial, flower pot or gazing ball holder. These can be installed by the average home handyman in just a few minutes.
Another unsightly piece of equipment is control panels associated with aerobic and other systems using electric power. These are usually gray steel boxes mounted on perforated “unistrut” posts. The best concealment for these is often shrubbery. Be sure to select plants without thorns, because service people do need to access these panels approximately annually, or whenever your septic system alarm goes off or the sewer starts to back up.
Septic tank access covers and drop box / diverter box lids are the final visual problem. If your system does not have these consider yourself fortunate, because they can be difficult to hide. Diverter box and drop box lids are approximaely one foot square in size, and a septic system may have several. Septic tank access covers are approximately 2 ft. in diameter, often made of concrete or plastic.
Please heed this safety warning about septic tank access covers: A loose or easily removed cover can be deadly to children. Some of the covers include a skull-and-crossbones logo, but these are controversial because some boys may associate that with pirates and want to open up the “treasure chest.” Every year there are reports of children falling into septic tanks with fatal results. A variety of manufacturers make inexpensive rope nets and perforated plastic safety guards which can be retrofitted under the lids of existing septic tank…ask your septic tank pumping company what’s available the next time you plan to have the tank pumped.
If you have photographs of successful visual treatments of septic tank accessories, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can re-publish them here for the benefit of other homeowners. Millions of Americans with onsite treatment systems will thank you.
For more information on the largest unsightly item, please see our article on Mound Systems.
Information provided on this website should be used only after consultation with a qualified professional.
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