Backyard Landscaping Ideas

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Tips for Hiding Landscaping Eyesores

May 8th, 2009 · No Comments

Landscaping
to Hide Eyesores
[*]


Whether it’s a useful but unattractive compost pile, a satellite dish that’s incongruous with your French colonial home, or sewer vent pipes that are just plain ugly, most home landscapes have something the home owner would rather not display to the neighborhood. Here are some simple, affordable solutions to common garden eyesores.


Air conditioners, heat pumps, propane tanks, and garbage cans


All of these require a few feet of space, either to function
properly (primarily for ventilation) or to allow access. The simplest solution is a
a trellis or fence panel with climbers like clematis, sweet peas, honeysuckle,
or even roses. For a more permanent fixture, hedges can be planted to
screen off the area. Even in cooler climates, bamboo will grow tall and thick enough to hide any of these landscape fixtures. Ornamental grasses may work as well.


Satellite dish


For larger satellite dishes on the ground, planting tall, showing
flowers near it is the simplest way to make it more attractive.
For smaller dishes up to eighteen inches, there are hollow “rocks” that look and feel like granite boulders, but don’t interfere with reception.



Compost Bins


For compost bins, one side must be left open for access,
but all the other sides can be camouflaged with plants.
Wrap your compost bin with a trellises and plant some vines
like sweet peas or honeysuckle. Bamboo and ornamental grasses
will easily screen these low structures. The simplest option is to
build soil into a low hill that just hides the compost pile and plant
the hill will medium- to tall-growing flowers such as day lillies.


Garages and Sheds


While such large objects are impossible to hide, they can be made
more attractive. Some vines or tall, narrow shrubs can be a great improvement. Install window boxes or, if you don’t have windows, install some
wall brackets and hang wire baskets from them. White walls can
also make an excellent backdrop for tall, showing plants like day lilies
if beds at the foot of the wall. Be sure to include some evergreens in the mix
so the wall doesn’t appear too stark in winter. Also, instead of hiding it, you can highligh the building to make it seem less shunned and neglected — paint it to
match your home (trim and all), add a weathervane to the top, and build a path to it. Keep in mind, too, that any wall or building being landscaped should be in good repair, as a crumbling building is not only ugly, but dangerous.


Stumps


Stumps can be dressed up, hidden, or completely removed.
To “naturalize” the stump into the garden, hollow out the center
or just drill some large holes and fill them cascading petunias or
other trailing plants. Depending on the size of the stump you can also
place flower boxes or a pot or two on top of it. To conceal the
stump, plant creeping plants in the center of the stump and tall
plants on the ground in a full circle around the stump. If you’d rather just get rid of the thing, you can also have the stump professionally removed (fees vary by the size of the stump) or speed up its decay with commercial products like
“Stump Rot” or “Stump Remover” which bring decay time down to about three
years.


Pipes and posts


Pipes, posts, and downspouts can easily be dressed up with climbing
vines, but be sure the vine you choose will not become so heavy it will
tear the down spout off the wall. Ivy should be fine, but wisteria will tear down all but the strongest structures. To help vines to climb the pipes, attach bird netting or a coil of baling wire around them. Netting and wire also works well for lamp posts.
[See BLI’s Trailing Plants and Climbing Vines list for plant choice ideas.]


General tricks


Erecting a rock wall — even a dry stack wall built without mortar using dry stone wall construction techniques — is another way to block the view of compost. Sections of inexpensive cedar stake fencing or snow fence may also work if
securely attached to sturdy posts and planted with climbing vines. For metal
boxes, tanks, and chain-link fences, painting them a “natural” color (any that fits into your landscape) can also help them
blend in.


A final note


Remember, the landscaping eyesore may not really be as prominent to a guest or
passer-by as it seems to you. It’s possible to over-do a disguise and
make the problem stand out even more than it did. If you emphasize the good parts of your home and landscape, little “problems” like a compost bin
or drain pipe will fade away without any extra help.

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