Camouflage for the Ugly Necessities

Isn’t it always the case that there is an ugly utility meter, or a garden faucet, A/C unit, or some other necessity right in the most visible location? Here are some of my solutions to camouflage, or at the very least minimize the visibility of objects which mar the beauty of our respective gardens.

Painting meters makes them less noticeable.

First, in regard to utility, we need to remember that access must still be easy. If it’s not, the meter readers and repair personnel will make their own way, which probably won’t be the way in which we would like it. I have found that a couple of stepping stones make a pathway obvious, and is usually respected. Aside from that, I have been known to paint meters to make them blend in better against the house. Make sure that is allowable first, though. I don’t want anyone getting in trouble!

As far as masking a view with plants, try to plant something that can take a bit of knocking around, and is fast growing, if possible. That way, if someone gets careless, the plant will hopefully recover quickly. I would also encourage you not to use plants which are sharp or thorny. It seems so often a holly is planted too close, according to our A/C repairman. Make sure that you know where your underground utilities are buried so that you don’t accidentally hit one when planting around meters where they come up to the surface for connection. In many areas there is a free service provided where the utility companies will come out and mark in your yard where they are, and give you their approximate depth underground.

Bushes are good for obscuring A/C noise as well as visibility. But try to leave 1-2 feet of breathing room around units.

Some might also try a small trellis, or an arbor, or a section of fencing to cover the ugly area.  We have even gone so far as to make removable lattice covers for our A/C units at our last house. I’m not so sure that it was really an improvement though, because it was even more visible, although better looking. I had one neighbor who built a cabinet with old shutters to cover their array of meters. It was quite pretty, but the meter readers didn’t know where to look, and were hesitant to open what looked like a beautiful cabinet. No matter which route that you take try to leave at least a couple of feet for breathing room and access, if possible.

With faucets, you have some new options. Simple extensions can be added which allow the control location to be changed to a more convenient and less visible location quite easily. Just be sure to drain them before frost in the fall.

Please let me know of any creative ideas you have on any of these issues, I would love to share them!

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