We all have them…unsightly views of gas meters, A/C units, and trash cans. Particularly challenging are those large green boxes or green plates in the ground that house the cable for the neighborhood or electric poles positioned right in the center of the front yard. It is tempting to decorate and attempt to cover them with white trellises or plant a bed around it with flowering perennials and shrubs. Or to plant vines that grow up electric poles (which by the way is illegal in many areas).
Unfortunately, decorating an eyesore attracts attention and does just the opposite of the intended goal to hide it. My number one design motto is: Never decorate an eyesore. Instead, follow these tips to address the frustrating and immovable structures in your yard.
Avoid Colors / Use Neutrals: Color attracts attention. So stay away from yellow and white plants and structures. This includes yellow leaved plants. Instead, use neutral or colors that occur in nature like greens (not yellow green) and browns.
Absorb light: Use colors that absorb light like black, browns and dark greens rather than those that reflect light like whites, yellows, and silver.
Keep it natural: Inanimate objects in the landscape draw the eye. So whenever possible use dark green plant material that does NOT flower.
Create a distraction. Sometimes, due to the location of an object, planting around it or creating a structure is impossible, impractical or too costly. My pro design tip is to distract. If the problem can’t be made more attractive or cannot be hidden, then a distraction is needed. The idea is to create something more interesting, which demands attention. The best distractions don’t just look visually attractive. They have to work harder than that. As far as possible, all the senses need engaging; that way the brain concentrates processing all those sensory signals it receives at once, which means the solitary eyesore doesn’t get noticed as much. Use a lovely focal point that directs the eye away from an eyesore, like a bench, rock, birdbath, planter, door wreath or ornamental plant. Below are additional strategies specific to other landscape blemishes.
When shielding the eye from garbage bins, be sure they are conveniently assessable for daily use and easy to pull to your curb for trash pick up. If you have tight garden space, consider adding a planting station on top. The picture on left has too much color and will draw the eye towards the trash cans. Black trash cans behind the doors would fade into the shadows and be less visible. Instead of a flowering container the top could be used a potting station. The picture on the right is creative, functional and appears to be a planter box with simple greens. Some of the ideas for A/C units could be modified and used for trash receptacles.
A/C and Front Yard Utility Boxes
Flush in-ground lids for utilities and sewers
Examples from my own home
Below are my attempts to distract attention away from utility boxes and sewer access in my front yard. My neighbor planted the yews, that are naturally trimmed by the deer in our neighborhood. The Verizon workers occasionally cut them back for access. Sometimes we mulch right over the sewer lid since it is easily pushed aside by workers. Paths are an excellent strategy for pulling the eye towards a direction. In this case, I used the path to draw attention away from the utility area and towards a decorative trellis/fence panel.
Another eyesore is a gas meter near our front door and along the sidewalk from the drive to our front steps. Behind the chair is a gas meter. We hid it with an evergreen hedge; when walking on sidewalk, attention is diverted by the water feature and owl. Workers can easily walk behind or step over the hedge for access. This year, they actually replaced the gas meter without affecting the shrubs.
Hopefully, these tips and photos are instructive and even inspirational. For those of us who've been "gifted" the added challenge of dealing with an eyesore in our yard, these examples offer creative strategies for hiding or directing attention away from it.
Thank you for finding us! Holly and I have collaborated to bring you informative, fun, and seasonal garden inspiration blogs.
Subscribe to receive our blogs on the 1st and 15th of the month--Gwen
Follow my landscape & garden design Pinterest Page to see more pics, inspiration and Gwen's home garden journey!
Gwen Wisniewski: Landscape and Garden Designer. Contact me. Let me help you integrate these garden inspirations. Choose the links below to find out more about my landscape design service or to make an appointment.