4 Tricks for Hiding Utility Boxes

My Garden Life
June 28, 2021
Table of Contents

Transformer boxes, electric meters, AC units, cable cabinets – all part of a humming modern home. And all eyesores if left bare in the middle of your landscape. Repairmen and utility crews must have access, so completely covering the ugly utility boxes is not an option. But there are options for hiding utility boxes safely by making some clever adjustments in your landscape.

Safety First!

Before you dig in the area around utility boxes you need to check for underground cables or electrical lines. This avoids the possibility of damaging or cutting through lines that will disconnect your service and potentially require repairs. It also protects you from the possibility of injury from live electrical lines.

In the United States a call to 811 is the best way to get the utility lines on your property marked so that you can easily see where it is safe to dig. Calling 811 offers a simple process that provides a one-step notification system to connect with all your local utility providers. Once notified, the utilities will send a representative to your property to place flags or paint lines to mark any underground lines. To learn more about 811 in your state visit the 811 website HERE. You’ll probably need to allow a few days for all of your utility lines to get marked so consider that in your project timeline.

1. Grasses are Great for Hiding Utility Boxes and Propane Tanks

two images showing ornamental grass hiding utility features; utility box and a large natural gas tank
Ornamental grasses, like pampas grass, are elegant freestanding features in a well-planned landscape that can screen even the largest utility box. As a bonus, if left to dry out over the winter, grasses add visual interest to the winter garden and provide food and shelter for overwintering birds. Make sure you leave an access path to the hidden utility box for servicing.

2. Plant Evergreen Shrubs to Hide an Electrical Box

evergreen shrubs and small grasses hiding utility boxes
Use evergreens, especially the dwarf varieties, year-round to block out utility boxes. Again, as long as you make sure service people can easily get to them. Some shrubs even do well in planters, which can be strategically placed to hide electrical boxes and the like on your home’s exterior walls.

3. Make a Screen Using a Decorative Fence

purple clematis vine cascading over a wood lattice fence
A decorative fence around three sides of your utility box or with a proper gate is also a good option for hiding larger utility boxes or AC compressors. Take care to ensure there is enough airflow for the unit to work properly. Train flowering vines to cover the fence for a beautiful and perhaps sweet-smelling solution to the problem of unsightly utility boxes.

4. Cover Your Utility Box with a Fake Boulder

perennial garden with decorative boulders in the background
Fake it until you make it with a lightweight but realistic boulder that can slip over the top of a freestanding utility box. Make the boulder the center of a Zen meditation garden or group in with other real boulders for an interesting landscape feature while still hiding utility boxes.

Privacy screens don’t just have to hide utility boxes – they have a host of other uses in the garden, well worth checking out.

an Asian inspired garden scene with small shrubs and grasses set against and a bamboo wall

6 Comments

  1. James Romero

    Looking for a place to buy items that can hide electrical boxes in front yard.

    Reply
    • My Garden Life

      Hi James,
      If you do an internet search for “fake rock to hide utility box” you should find options for where to purchase artificial boulders. Otherwise, garden centers are a source for plants, and home improvement or lumber stores should have materials for constructing a fence or box.

      Reply
  2. Pam

    Hi! Trying to hide a box located in the corner of a condo (against a wall) with only 8 inches in front, and unable to dig. Thinking planters…any suggestions?/

    Reply
    • My Garden Life

      Hi Pam,
      Agree, that’s not a lot of space, and we’re going to assume you need to maintain some accessibility to the utility box. Going with a planter box makes sense because you could move it if needed (although admittedly, that wouldn’t be a fun job once the boxes are filled with soil and plants unless the box has casters attached).

      Although they can be pricey, there are rectangular planter boxes available with an attached trellis. Most standard planter boxes are too short to grow tall plants, such as shrubs, because there isn’t enough space for root development over the long term. You could go a lot higher and hide more by growing a vining plant on a trellis. Do an internet search for “planter box with trellis” to see examples. We also found some general ideas for different boxes and plant combinations at Flower Window Boxes that might help trigger ideas for you.

      Reply
  3. Mary Hill

    Do not dig nor plant within 10′ of electric transformer! Always call Miss Utility before you dig. Putting a shovel in the ground near a transformer could cause electrocution – death by electricity.

    Striking a communication line will lead to a very expensive bill from the utility owner.

    Reply
    • My Garden Life

      Great suggestions Mary! We have revised the article to include a caution about digging before you identify where underground lines may run, as well as including information for contacting 811. Thank you for taking the time to point this out to us.

      Reply

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