How to Hide Drain Covers in a Garden

Drain Covers Garden

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Drain covers play a huge role in the ecosystem of a healthy garden. Without them, the garden’s drainage system could get clogged by dirt, debris and leaves. People could fall into manholes or get chased away (from the garden) by horrible smells coming from the drain.

However, they stick out like a sore thumb in the natural greenery of a garden. As a matter of fact, drain covers usually stick out everywhere, especially as they get rusty and old. So, it’s not unheard of for them to bring down your garden’s visual appeal. And you are not the first to consider hiding them. 

That’s why we wrote this article. We want to share a few ideas (on how to hide a drain cover) with you. You may have already figured out or discovered some of these ideas elsewhere. Hopefully, some will be new to you. At least our explanations will open your eyes a little more. So, have a nice read.

Cover your drain cover with a plant(s)

Two types of plants work best, ground-cover and broad-leaved plants. With some training, the ground-cover plant will spread over the drain cover, hiding it. On the other hand, the broad leaves of the broad-leaved plant will hide and draw attention away from the drain cover. 

In either case, plant in the soil near the drain cover. You can use multiple small plants or a single large one. The former approach is better for variety because you can mix different types of plants.

Ground-cover plants include periwinkle, lavender, lily of the valley, bugleweed and sedum. Examples of broad-leaved plants are ivy, ginger lily and fern.

Place a planter on it

The biggest problem with this method is weight. A heavy planter can damage your drain cover. However, there is no denying that this is a great and simple idea. It hides the drain cover perfectly. Anyone looking at the area will probably be admiring the potted plant. They won’t know that there is a drain cover under it.

Just remember to choose a lightweight planter. This won’t just prevent property damage. It will also reduce the stress of moving the planter when you need to access the drain.

Cover it with grass

Both artificial and real grass can work. The former is low maintenance and doesn’t need soil. With the latter, you have to place a tray of soil on the drain cover. Then grow the grass on it. The best thing about this method is that you can integrate the grass cover into your lawn. Perfect, right?

However, if you do that, you need to set markers to identify the location of the drain cover. This will help with accessibility. Try tracer wires. You can use them to mark and create an opening (in the lawn) for the drain cover.

Cover it with a fake rock

Aka faux or artificial rocks, fake rocks are great for hiding things outdoors. You can use them to hide pumps, pipes, electrical boxes and, you guessed it, drain covers. 

Fake rocks can pass for real rocks. So, no one will be the wiser. Plus, they are lightweight, and come in various styles, sizes or shapes. So, both aesthetics and accessibility are taken care of. Just ensure you get a fake rock with drainage holes.

Place a mobile pond on it

Ponds improve the visual appeal and biodiversity of a garden. They can also increase the pollination rate of your garden by attracting flies and frogs.

When using a pond to hide drain covers, the rules are similar to the planter method discussed earlier. Use a lightweight pond to avoid damaging the drain cover. The pond should also be mobile (i.e. moveable) to allow easy access to the drain as needed.

Aside from this, you can choose a pond of any design or shape. You can also add some plants to further bring up the visual appeal of that area.

Place a fire pit on it

This is similar to the pond and planter methods. However, the fire pit may not have to stand on the drain cover. It could stand over it instead. Either way, make sure the fire pit doesn’t affect the accessibility of the drain.

Place a birdbath on it

This is also like the pond and planter methods. In fact, we can put all four methods in a category called “place something over the drain cover”. However, it is best to choose “something” that serves an additional purpose, aside from hiding the drain cover. 

As always, use something lightweight and moveable.

Paint it

This is a great option if aesthetics is the main or only problem with the drain cover. You can paint in any colour(s) of your choice. However, paint won’t last forever. It will scratch, fade and chip. This might happen sooner rather than later, depending on the environmental factors of your garden.

But, you can make it last longer by using durable and rust-resistant paints. Another option is to cover the drain cover with a wooden board or metal sheet and paint that instead.

Turn it into a piece of art

You can use graffiti, mosaic, still life painting, etc. Any sort of art will do. The point is to turn the drain cover into a piece of artwork, something to be admired. This way, you hide it in plain sight and turn it into an ornament.

Like the painting method, you can create the art on the drain cover itself or on a board or sheet, which you will place over the drain cover.

Integrate it into the surrounding

This involves mimicking the material, design and colour of the surrounding so the drain cover blends perfectly. We have already discussed a version of this. We talked about covering the drain cover with grass and then integrating that grass into the rest of your lawn.

Apart from lawns, you can also try this method with wooden floors, tiles or even plants. The process is simple. Find a material(s) that blends in with the rest of the surroundings. Then place it over the drain cover. Another option is to change the drain cover to a more suitable material. Grass drain covers are an example of this. You may be able to get them at your local store.

Finally, ensure that whatever you do won’t damage or impair access to the drain cover. You can also include drainage holes.

Cover Drain With Grass

Replace it with a more aesthetically pleasing drain cover

Technically, this method has nothing to do with hiding, but it is still worth considering. With a better-looking drain cover, you won’t have to worry about any negative impact on the aesthetics of your garden. On the contrary, it will add visual appeal.

So this is a great option. Just make sure any drain cover you buy has drainage holes. It should also be durable and easy to remove. If you don’t own the property, get permission for the owner before making permanent changes like this.

Install a patio or decking over it

This method is a much bigger investment than the others. But, it is worth considering. Just make sure the structure won’t block access or put too much weight on the drain cover. And create an opening at the parts above the drain cover. This will ensure accessibility. 

Apart from hiding your drain cover, installing a patio can also increase the market value of your garden and the entire property. So, it is a great investment if you don’t already have one. Just make sure you get building permission if needed. If you don’t own the property, you may also need the permission of the actual owner.


There are many ways to hide a drain cover in your garden, many more than discussed in this article. However, you don’t need to know them all. You just need to know the ones that will work best in your situation. The answer depends on the circumstances of the situation, such as the surrounding, size and height of the drain cover. It will also depend on your preferences.

There are no rules. Any method will work as long as it won’t damage or disrupt the accessibility and functionality of the drain cover. Your drain cover must always be accessible and functional, even if that comes at the expense of aesthetics.


What can I do to remove a stuck drain cover?

Add some water to the joints between the manhole and the drain cover. Then tap those joints with a hammer. Repeat this until the drain cover comes loose.

Why does my garden need a drainage system?

A drainage system prevents erosion and directionless runoff of water. Those two can damage the soil, plants and structures in the area.  

Why do drain covers need drainage holes?

Drainage holes prevent the drain from being flooded. It allows water to escape if the drain gets overfilled. The feature is important. In fact, when there is heavy rain, it’s better to uncover drains. 

Author: Eleanor

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