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There’s a reason why there are professional landscape designers and decorators who specialize in curb appeal: merging form with function is no easy feat. Take drain covers, for example. They’re vital to your property’s drainage, but they can mar the look of an otherwise lovely garden, lawn, or property.
You don’t have to choose between a functioning drain cover and a curated look for your property. With a bit of strategy and creativity, you can do both.
4 Ideas for Disguising Drain Covers in Your Garden
Whether your drain cover is located in your garden, lawn, or another part of your property, there are ways to help it blend in. Check out these practical yet effective options.
Place Plants Strategically
If you’re arranging the plants in your garden or lawn, there are subtle ways you can use them to shield your drain cover from view. For example, create an arrangement of flowers, shrubs, or other plants that will hide the gap where your drain cover is. This is easier to do with small drain covers compared to larger ones, but there’s typically some arrangement you can find that hides your drain cover.
As you do this, give careful consideration to the plant varieties you’re using and what those plants will look like as they grow. For example, choose plants that remain full at the bottom. Plants that grow with most of their volume at the top rather than the bottom, like trees, won’t hide your drain cover as well in the years ahead.
Install a Bench
A bench can be a fantastic addition to any garden or lawn. Not only is it an inviting and beautiful way to add some visual interest, but it can swiftly hide a drain cover, along with other property essentials like well caps or manhole covers.
If you place a bench on top of your drain cover, the shadow of the bench will hide the drain cover from view. Guests’ eyes will be drawn to the bench itself, not the drain cover below it, especially if the drain color matches the color of your grass, mulch, or other material that is below the bench. This is particularly handy for large drain covers that are difficult to disguise in other ways.
However, make sure the bench doesn’t put weight directly onto the drain cover. You want weight-bearing legs to sit on either side of the drain cover instead so you don’t risk breaking the drain cover.
Add Artificial Turf
A more unique way to hide your drain cover is to adhere artificial turf to it so it blends in with your grass. You simply cut the turf to align with the slats on the drain cover and use adhesive to attach the strips of turf to those slats. You can do something similar with a manhole cover.
This is helpful for drain covers that are in an open, grassy area because it would look out of place if you put a bench or plants there. However, it can be difficult to find artificial turf that matches the color of your grass. This method also isn’t suited for warm-season grasses that go dormant in the winter because when the rest of your grass is a dormant brown, that green spot of artificial turf will stick out like a sore thumb.
Incorporate Decorative Rocks or Stones
Decorative rocks can also be a helpful way to hide your drain cover. If you incorporate decorative rocks into your landscaping design strategically, they can block your drain cover from view in a way that looks natural. For good measure, you can also paint your drain cover to be a similar color to your decorative stones so it blends into the background.
There are a few caveats to keep in mind with this strategy. First, be careful to avoid rocks that are so heavy they could break your drain cover or ones that are so small they could fall in. Second, make sure the rocks aren’t so thick that they block the water that needs to drain through the drain cover.
What to Avoid When Disguising Drain Covers in Your Garden
As you look for ways to hide the drain covers on your property, you should steer clear of strategies that could damage your drain cover or hinder it from doing its job. In particular, avoid the three common mistakes below.
Using Heavy Disguises
Overly heavy landscaping items like very large, dense, and heavy rocks, as well as bird baths, can crack or damage your drain cover. They also make it difficult to access the drain cover when you need to because you have heavy items to pull out of the way.
Encouraging Walking on Drain Covers
A clever strategy some property owners have used is to install pavers that look similar to their drain cover (or change the drain cover to look like their pavers) so the drain cover looks like just another step of a walkway. While this can be a great disguise, it’s not ideal for your drain cover.
While drain covers are designed to be durable, it’s best to avoid the risk of them breaking under a person’s weight. Not only does this create an opportunity for damage to your drain cover, but it puts people’s safety at risk and also opens the door to legal liability issues. It’s best to avoid drain cover disguises that encourage people to walk on the cover.
Blocking the Flow of Water
Your drain cover is there for a reason, but it’s easy to get so caught up in hiding it that you get in the way of its function. If you try to block the drain cover by putting something solid on top of it, you can block or limit the flow of water and eliminate the reason for the drain cover in the first place.
Merging Utility and Aesthetics in Your Garden Drain Covers
You can have all the functional essentials your property needs without leaving a blemish on the face of the property. All it takes is some creativity and a bit of work to allow form and function to work together, and the ideas above can set you on your way.
Want to learn more about working your plumbing essentials into your landscape? Check out our other blogs about managing your plumbing tools or creating manhole cover artwork.