Creative Disguises: Hide Unsightly Outdoor Features

disguises-1At this time of year, most of us are ready to be outside and enjoy the spaces we’ve worked so hard to clean, plant, groom and furnish. While we have many spots of beauty in our yards, there are a few unsightly components—think utility meters, cables, air conditioning units, trash cans and the like—that many of us accept as necessary evils we must try to overlook when enjoying our outdoor spaces. However, there are many creative and decorative ways to conceal some of these less attractive items around our homes.

One of the most common ways to enclose an unsightly area is to use fence panels. Fence panels come in standard lengths and heights, and can be purchased at almost any home improvement store in a variety of materials and styles. The most popular fencing options include vinyl or wooden board fencing, in picket or lattice styles, as well as post and rails. Creating a fenced-off area using one, two or three sides of fencing would be a great option to conceal an area for garbage cans, air conditioning units and heat pumps, propane tanks and electrical meter bases. This is a relatively easy do-it-yourself project; to start you’d need to dig holes of approximately two feet for the fence end posts, using quick-setting concrete to anchor them, and metal or vinyl brackets to attach the panels to the posts. This idea is easy to customize to the configuration you need.

A trellis, pergola or gazebo may also be used to conceal an undesirable view. These are also available in wood (cedar is a very popular, attractive option) or vinyl. They can be used as an anchor for many trailing plants, and built to fit the area you wish to cover.

disguises-4For areas of the lawn where you may have a water meter or well cover, homeowners may consider a faux well or meter cover. These typically come in the form of a decorative rock or boulder. Available sizes run the gamut. They blend into the landscape very well, and can even be the highlight of a small flower garden planting area. Another item to add to an area like this may be a lantern post with a decorative outdoor light. A flagpole could certainly be the centerpiece of this type of arrangement as well.

The most visually appealing method used to conceal unsightly areas around the home is the use of plants, trees and shrubs. For lower-lying areas, the use of ornamental grasses is a great option. These decorative outgrowths of green or variegated vegetation will improve the view of any unpleasant-looking sections of lawn. Of course there are many varieties of plants and shrubs available to mask unsightly areas as well. Evergreen shrubs are always a good choice, as they are low maintenance and can be trimmed to fit the height and width of the space you wish to conceal. Some other common border plants are azaleas (which will grow as large as you allow them), various species of hawthorne, and forsythia. Also very popular are boxwoods and many varieties of rose bushes. Crepe myrtles are always an excellent choice. A visit to your local garden center will help you decide the best option for your individual situation.

An increasingly popular garden landscape item is a bench, imparting the look and feel of a park. Available in metal, plastic, wood or concrete, a bench is a good option to conceal unsightly pipes or other essential utility items visible in our lawns.

disguises-2Pavers or retaining wall blocks may also be used to transform an undesirable view into a work of art. They can be used to create a beautiful planting area or simply arranged to mask an unsightly object or section of lawn.

While there are many options available to conceal the less attractive areas around our homes, we should always be safety-conscious when considering improvements. The utility company must always have access to the electric or water meters. The gas company will need a clear path to fill the tank when it’s low. With these considerations in mind, installing a creative enclosure around these areas will enhance the look and appeal of your home and all of your landscape efforts.

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