What is over your septic tanks?

marti8aMay 28, 2011

I have tried the following

grass - did great until it got really hot and then there were 3 round dead spots in the yard

sedum - a little better than grass, but hard to keep weeds out

morning glory grown on a teepee trellis over the tanks - they did great but weeds went wild inside the teepee.

Then I decided phooey on growing stuff and covered it with gravel and a few big rocks to make a dryscape. Worked great until we had to have the tanks cleaned out, and then what a mess

Currently I have big pavers over it just so I can see where it is when I'm mowing (one lid is cracked from a long horn stepping on it) so I won't drive over it.

There has GOT to be something that looks good and is easy to get to the tanks.

But what is it?

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rowdysmom

I hope someone has an answer. I'm new to septic tanks and I can't get anything to grow so far. I've only tried st Augustine and winter rye, but neither did worth a flip.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 9:57PM
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plantmaven(8b/9a TX)

I had one at my previous home. I included in it the mulched area I put in the front yard. That way it just looked like mulch. It is the mulched area to the right of the gazingball and behind the red bud tree.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 10:45PM
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marti8a

Plantmaven, I had thought of mulch, but mine is in such an odd spot that I would have to mulch a good bit of the backyard to make it look like it was natural. Still might though. Did you have plastic or landscape fabric under it? And if so, how did you make it possible to have access to the tanks?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 11:34PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Kathy, it's really hard to look at the mulch because my eyes keep going to the lily! :-) But mulch does sound like a good idea.

Marti, maybe you could put an arrangment of potted plants in various size pots and a light weight bird bath or statuary on the mulch. They could be moved with a hand truck when needed. Let the borders of the mulch be layed in an uneven pattern to make it look more natural.

Perhaps you could get tree trimmers to dump their mulched up tree limbs somewhere in the area and lay the mulch really deep. Then occasionally scatter pre-emergent weed killer; natural such as corn gluten, or chemical such as Preen. You might have to pull a few weeds, but that might be easier and less expensive than laying weed block in which weeds would still come up. Just an idea.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 8:11AM
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plantmaven(8b/9a TX)

I did not put anything under the mulch. Don't waste you time or money with weed block. At one time I planted annuals over it.

Dichondra is considered a weed here. In Arizona people pay big bucks for a dicondra lawn that does not have to be mowed. It has very shallow roots .One of the TX gardening gurus stated that texans are missing a good ground cover when they dismiss dichondra.

Roselee, that is they tall lily I bought at Rainbow Gardens the day you, Diane and I went.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 9:06AM
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marti8a

Dichondra is so darn invasive!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 10:25AM
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holleygarden Zone 8, East Texas

Great question! I have ignored my septic tank area for so long, not knowing what to put there. I finally decided this year to do something - anything! - but to just get started.

So, I made three raised beds to put on three sides out from the tank covers. My intention is that the three raised beds, planted, would hide the tank covers from those three sides. The fourth side is the one closest to the house, and on that side I planted some butterfly bushes, salvias, etc.

The actual tank area in the middle, I'm just mulching heavily as I hope it will be hidden. I am placing stepping stones through the house side plantings for access to the tanks.

I'm hoping this will work out. I'm still interested in hearing what others have done.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 10:40AM
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hippmom

i have a clear water septic system and i place a stone fire bowl on its stand over the biggest tank cover and filled it with plants and on the littel one i got a fairly big cermic planter and glued the matching drip pan on it for a home made bird bath that just slips over the small white thingy that sticks out of the ground.and now the ugly covers are cover up but with a little effort the septic sys is accessible if need be.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 11:29AM
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ltcollins1949(9a TX)

Well, when we moved here the septic tank just outside the back door had grass growing. Well, I had a wooden deck built out back and part of it is located over the septic tank. The deck is raised about 8". The area over the concrete cover for the septic tank can be lifted up for easy assess when it needs draining, work, etc.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 6:01PM
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honeybunny2(Z9TX)

I have two septic tanks. I have flo- tam grass growing over one in full sun. The other one I built a flowerbed over it so that no one would park on it, since its in the front yard. I planted plants with shallow roots over the tank, and then plumeria, daylilies, bananas, and cannas just outside the area of the tank. I have the opening marked in case we ever need to get into it. We use the stuff that you put in twice a year so you do not have to have it drained. This has turned out to be one of my best flowerbeds. Barbra

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 10:18PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Never thought about it. Native grasses grow over it. I did not plant them. I have so much else to worry about.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 7:20PM
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honeybunny2(Z9TX)

Marti, I have at least 12 inches of dirt on top of my tanks. I have put free mulch from the dump on top for many years, and it has turned into great soil. Barbra

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 8:54PM
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ExoticRGVNativesTy(10a TX)

Try water clover (i.e. Marsilea vestita or M. macropoda). These incredible ferns prefer wet areas, including standing water, but will go dormant during drought and return to life as soon as there is moisture. It should form a groundcover dense enough to keep weeds out.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 11:19PM
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marti8a

honeybunny, I wish they had put our tanks deeper so we could have more dirt on top. There might be an inch of dirt over them, and to pile it any higher would make a berm and then water wouldn't flow away from the house right there. I don't know if that would be a problem, since it could go around.

ExoticRGVNativesTy, it is a dry area around our tanks so I don't think water clover would work. It would probably just result in the same yellow circles in the yard we have now.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 7:09PM
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rowdysmom

Marti8a, I have the same problem, my septic looks like a grave (before it flattens out) and there is only a little soil on top of it. Nothing grows. To complicate matters it is in a narrow strip on the side of the house, between the house and a long driveway that extends into the back yard. thus, I can't put something around it to hide it, as we couldn't walk past it from the front to the back of the house (our boat and travel trailer are parked on that long driveway). So, there it is, just a humped up grave looking thing with a green pipe sticking up. Sigh.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 8:12PM
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ExoticRGVNativesTy(10a TX)

My mistake, I assumed you were describing where the tank discharges.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 10:57PM
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rowdysmom

Actually you can see all four of our lateral lines too, as the grass is brownish all the way down all four lines. There is grass, unlike the septic tank which is bare dirt, but the grass is brownish. I have no clue why that is - it seems there should be more moisture around the lines; thus, the grass should be greener, but nope it isn't. I'm wondering if it has to do with the soap that is in the water. We don't have a water softener or I would think it would be salt. I'm new to the septic tank life. Anyone know?

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 8:52PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

That does seem strange to me as the lateral lines from my septic take can be easily identified by the beautiful "greener that grass" grass growing on them. All of my water goes through the septic (wish I could use my gray water, but not a chance the way this is set up) so I doubt it is the soap. I hope someone more knowledgeable than I can help you.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 10:24AM
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ltcollins1949(9a TX)

Mine is the same way carrie. But I do use my grey wash water to help with watering without any damage to my yard. In fact, it looks good getting the water. And my kitchen goes into a grease trap with the lateral line leading down the driveway. That line is always greener too.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 10:48AM
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rowdysmom

We had the septic tank inspected before we bought the house in the fall, so I think everything is working properly. We also had it pumped as you have to do that to have it inspected. I read online that lots of people have lateral lines that "show" by yellow stripes - so I dunno???

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 3:00PM
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remuda1(7b Hood Co TX)

Hi all :). My husband is a septic system contractor so I couldn't resist a look at this thread. I'll have some questions for him when he gets home from work today :). But about the original poster's question..... I believe the reason that you have 3 dead rings when you plant grass is that you mentioned that you only have 1 inch of soil on top of the tanks...... There's not much that will survive our weather with only that amount of soil to put roots down in. The other concern would be that you wouldn't really want to plant anything that would be expensive or huge. If you ever have to have any kind of repairs (cracked lid, crushed lines, etc., you could kiss that money goodbye.

You would be surprised how many folks pour driveways or slabs over the top of their systems and then have THAT added expense on top of whatever repairs to their system cost. I've never heard of dead plant material on top of lateral lines.... As other posters have mentioned, it is usually the lushest part of the landscape in the summer time. The only thing I can think is that perhaps the good bacteria in the tank are not as plentiful as they should be???

My husband doesn't pump tanks so this isn't a ploy to have people pump them unnecessarily, but he does recommend pumping them every 5 years. Also....just as an aside, he doesn't feel that the products like Rid-Ex (I think that's what it's called) are any benefit at all.

I would agree that mulch would probably be your best bet. But I'm going to ask the hubster what he thinks could be done :).

Kristi

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 4:31PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

Hey Kristi! Waving to ya!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 5:29AM
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remuda1(7b Hood Co TX)

Hey Pam :), waving back! Hope all is well with you.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 6:45PM
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remuda1(7b Hood Co TX)

Ohh! Hubby said that the yellowing lateral lines would be from methane gas and possibly some chemicals (household cleaners, etc) escaping from the lateral lines.
He seemed to feel that the mulch or pea gravel route would be the way to go for the shallowly buried tanks unless you wanted to bring in additional soil :).

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 2:03PM
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soxxxx

I have 3 huge round cement monsters sticking out of the ground about 3 inches high including their lids.

I painted them green matching the color of the grass as closely as possible. That fooled the eye until the surrounding grass went dormant and browned in winter.

I think I should search for another solution

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 3:06PM
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remuda1(7b Hood Co TX)

Soxx!! whoever installed your system should be responsible for brInging in more soil to cover all of that up!! That's awful. It may be that the installer hit rock and did not want to pay the expense of having the rock excavated and then the cost of cushion sand after already bidding the job..... Such a shame that people don't take more pride in their work.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 6:58PM
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soxxxx

remudal
I have a service contract with a company that checks my aerobic system every three months. It entails opening the tops and measuring the settlable solids, checking the air pump filters and the disinfection device, as well as inspecting some other parts of the system. I suppose it is practical to leave the tops above ground to facilitate this procedure.

I just have to live with this. Thankfully they are behind the house. They are really in the way when dragging the watering hose acrosss the lawn.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 12:12AM
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remuda1(7b Hood Co TX)

Hi Sox, we are a small family owned and operated company. We have over five hundred contract customers that we do quarterly inspections for. You really do have other options. Access ports can be easily and fairly inexpensively installed for the purposes that you mentioned. If your maintenance company also does repairs, they may be able to do this for you. Good luck with it, I hope you can do something to make using the hoses more convenient. Goodness knows that we use them enough with this heat :).

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 4:55AM
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holleygarden Zone 8, East Texas

Mine is the same way as Soxxxx. Obviously, this is the common way to install aerobic septic systems in this area. That's why I put three raised beds around the lids - to hide them from view, yet still have access. Remudal, the maintenance company has never suggested we have any other option. I wonder if this was the common way to install it during a particular time period, or if it's just in this area.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 4:08PM
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RALPHSWORKS

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    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:12AM
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PKponder TX(7b)

What a dumb*** ad Ralphsworks. Would you really come to Texas from the UK? Would the low prices to keep your customers smiling still apply if it involved a trip across the Atlantic?

Just shaking my head at the lengths that spammers will go to.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 7:37PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

Me, too, Pam ................to say nothing of the time involved looking this old thread up. Pretty dumb is right !!!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:53PM
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