Although garden drains serve an important function, they are not the most attractive feature in a garden. If they are placed in the centre of your lawn, drain covers can ruin the appeal of your garden no matter how successfully you have landscaped the rest of it. So, what can you use as covers for drains in gardens? Well, many people have found that a cover planter is an ideal way to disguise an ugly drain cover. You can disguise the drains and create an attractive feature with pot plants which will add to the aesthetic appeal of the space. Read below to discover how to disguise a garden drain with cover planters.

Cover planter over drain
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What is a Cover Planter?

A cover planter is a box that is made of wood, has a solid bottom, and sits on four legs that raise it above the ground. This makes it for hiding drain covers that may be a little raised above the ground. When thinking about how to disguise drain covers in the garden, you will find that using a cover planter is one of the easiest ways to hide unsightly manhole covers. Constructing them on your own won’t require much work and will allow easy access when needed.

Planter boxes are also a pretty easy DIY project for you to complete at home. You can measure the exact width of the drain lids and create a tailored box to cover the space.

Cover Planter
Cover Planter

How to Hide a Drain Cover in Your Garden?

Hiding a drain cover in your garden can be both a functional and aesthetic endeavour. A popular and visually appealing method is using a cover planter. Here’s how:

1 – Measure the Drain Cover

Begin by measuring the dimensions of your drain cover using a measuring tape. Note down the width, length, and height. This will help in determining the size of the planter you need.

2 – Choose the Right Planter

While there are various planters available in the market, finding one that perfectly fits your drain cover might be challenging. Look for planters designed as cover planters or hollow-bottom planters (Amazon link – opens in a new tab). These are specifically designed to conceal unsightly garden elements.

3 – Customise If Necessary

If you can’t find a planter that fits the exact dimensions of your drain cover, you might need to consider making one yourself or having it custom-made. Wooden planters are relatively easy to craft, and you can customise them to your desired size and design. We have instructions on how to make them below.

4 – Ensure Proper Ventilation

When placing a planter over a drain cover, ensure that there’s adequate ventilation. You don’t want to obstruct the drain’s function. You can achieve this by drilling small holes at the bottom of the planter or ensuring a slight elevation.

5 – Filling and Planting

Once your planter is in place, fill it with soil and plant your desired plants. Opt for plants that don’t require deep rooting, as the depth of the planter might be limited due to the drain cover beneath.

6 – Maintenance

Regularly check to ensure that the drain underneath remains functional and isn’t clogged by soil or plant roots.

Cover Planter on Legs
Cover Planter on Legs

How to Make Your Own Cover Planters?

Covering drain covers with a garden planter requires relatively few tools and can be accomplished within a few hours. First of all, you will need to gather together all your tools and buy the wood you need.

Note: If DIY is not your thing, you can find plenty of ready-made cover planters on Amazon.

What You Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Wooden planks (redwood, cedar, and cypress are all good choices)
  • Sharp pencil and pen
  • An electric or standard saw
  • Galvanised Metal Screws
  • Electric Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Nylon or Vinyl Screen to lace in the bottom of the planter
  • Corks or shorter pieces of wood for feet

Step 1 – Measure the Area You Want to Cover

Use your measuring tape to measure the drain cover for the garden and note down the width and length of the area which needs to be covered. Then decide how high you want the box to be. Use this to guide how much wood you should buy in the DIY store. You will also need to consider how deep you want your planter to be. If you are just having bedding plants, 6-10 inches should suffice but if you are planning on growing some veg, you will want the planter to be at least 18 inches deep.

Note: Don’t forget that you will need wood for the bottom of the box and the legs as well, not just the sides of the box.

Step 2 – Cut Down the Wood to Size

Use the measuring tape and a sharp pencil or pen to mark out where you need to cut the wood to size. Then use an electric saw or standard saw to cut them to size. If you don’t feel confident doing this, you can ask for them to be cut down at the DIY store when you buy the wood.

Measure twice before cutting and then slowly and carefully make your cuts so they are even, and the planks will fit together neatly.

Step 3 – Attach the Side Boards Together

Place the boards together and make sure that all your measurements are correct. Then use an electric drill to make three pilot holes along the edges where the board will meet. This will ensure that the wood doesn’t split when you start to apply the screws. The middle pilot hold should be at mid-height and the top and bottom holes should measure about 1.9 cm from the edge of the board.

Then use a screwdriver to attach the boards together and build the box. Make sure that each screw goes through the hole and into the adjoining piece of wood.

Step 4 – Attach the Bottom of the Box

Once you have screwed together the edges of the box, use your measuring tape to double-check how wide and long the bottom board needs to be. Then cut the board down to size if needed. Then use the drill to attach the bottom board to the sides of the planter box. Once you have attached the board, use the drill to make some drainage holes in the bottom board.

You should aim to create five or six holes, possibly more if you are creating a larger box.

Step 5 – Attach Feet to the Bottom of the Box

Your final step in the construction of the box is to add the feet that the planter will stand on. Adding feet will assist with drainage and ensure that insects such as woodlice won’t make a home beneath the box. You can use wine corks if the box is small enough, or else cut down squares of equal length to support the weight of the planter. Then use long galvanized screws and your screwdriver to attach the legs to the bottom of the box.

Note: If you will be regularly moving the planter, you could add small wheels to the bottom instead of feet.

Step 6 – Add Lining

Then cut down the nylon or vinyl sheet so that it will sit comfortably in the bottom of the box. Then use the electric drill to make holes in the screen that match up with the drainage holes in the bottom of the planter. Once the box has been completed, you can choose to use some wood stain that is suitable for outdoor use to provide extra decoration and weather protection to the box.


Garden planters make great covers for drains in gardens. Cheap and quick to make, you can easily build a DIY planter at home which will cover the space entirely and be easy to move if workmen need access to drainage systems. You will be able to add more colour and beauty to your garden by adding pot plants to your planter while providing a drain cover for gardens which is practical and effective. The best thing about using planters is that they are relatively easy to construct and should be ready to put in place within a few hours!

Garden Doctor Trev

Garden Doctor Tips

“Cedar is naturally rot resistant meaning that you won’t need to treat your planter with harsh chemicals!”

“Don’t make the planters too big or you may struggle to move them if you ever need to reach the drain that they are hiding!”

“Making your own is not only great fun but can also be very relaxing. The satisfaction you get at the end makes it worthwhile too!”

“Ensure that you add drainage holes to the bottom, planters that hold on to too much water can damage the roots of your plants!”

Frequently Asked Questions

How big should a cover planter be?

The size of the cover planter you choose will depend on the size of the area you want to cover. You’ll want to make sure that it’s big enough to cover the area you need but small enough to be handled if needed.

What wood is best for a cover planter?

Cedar is a great wood to use for a cover planter because it is naturally rot resistant. Other woods that can be used are treated pine, redwood, cypress, or mahogany.

How deep should a cover planter be?

The depth of your cover planter depends on what you want to grow. If you’re planting root vegetables, like carrots or potatoes, the planter should be at least 18 inches deep. For other plants, 6-10 inches should be sufficient. Make sure to loosen the soil in the bottom of the planter before adding your plants so that they can grow easily.


Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.

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