What About the Ugly Parts?

The Problem of Unwanted Yard Features

It’s common for yards to have some features that homeowners wish they could hide or remove. Utility boxes, telephone poles, fire hydrants, and power boxes often end up awkwardly placed in the middle of the yard or other noticeable spots.

We purchase homes thinking we can landscape anywhere, only to realize these unsightly elements already claim some of the best real estate! The utility pole becomes a focal point, the fire hydrant sticks out like a sore thumb, and the electrical box presents an industrial feel that contrasts the garden environment we envisioned.

These unwanted fixtures often end up right where we’d prefer to entertain, play, or relax outside. Unfortunately, they’re immovable objects that force us to either design around them or try to minimize their impact. It’s a common landscaping dilemma that requires creative solutions.

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The Ineffective Solution of Screening

A common solution for hiding unwanted yard features is to plant bushes, trees, or tall grasses around the object you want to conceal. Homeowners will often use drift roses, ligustrums, ornamental grasses, or other plants and boulders to visually block utility boxes, poles, hydrants, AC units, and more.

The idea is that a clump of attractive foliage surrounding the eyesore will camouflage it from view. And when the plants are flowering or full, this can sometimes work to obscure the object behind a screen of greenery.

However, this solution has some significant downsides:

    • In winter or when plants are not in bloom, the screening plants lose their leaves or flowers. This exposes the very thing you wanted to hide.
    • Placing plants and landscaping right up against the eyesore you want to minimize can actually end up drawing more attention to it. Even if the plants themselves are pretty, they highlight the existence of whatever is behind them.
    • Using screening plants often creates visual clutter, with the utility elements still somewhat visible behind the greenery. This adds more layers and objects for the eye to take in.
    • Placing screening right around an eyesore confines you to landscaping in that area, when you may want to use that space for other purposes.


So while using shrubs, bushes and plants to conceal eyesores may seem like an easy fix, it comes with drawbacks. There are better solutions, which we’ll explore next.

A Better Solution: Distract and Redirect

Instead of trying to hide unwanted yard elements by screening them, a better solution is to distract and redirect attention away from them. Rather than placing plants right next to the object you want to conceal, which often just highlights it more, it’s better to pull the eye elsewhere in your landscape.

You can create beautiful spaces in other areas of your yard that become the main focal points, taking attention away from any unsightly features. The goal is to distract and redirect the viewer’s gaze towards the most attractive parts of your outdoor space. If you design a welcoming entrance or build a stunning patio, people will focus their attention there rather than on a utility box or fire hydrant off to the side.

Creating an Inviting Entrance

The entrance to your home is like a welcoming handshake – it’s the first impression for any visitors. That’s why focusing your time, budget and creativity on designing an inviting entrance can help distract from any eyesores elsewhere in the yard.

There are many ways to create a standout entrance that immediately draws the eye. Brightly colored annuals planted in beds right at the front walkway greet guests immediately. The vibrant reds, oranges, and purples pull the gaze and create a welcoming feel. Uplighting on trees or along the walkway sets a mood. Interesting hardscaping like a textured paver patio or stone path leads visitors right to your front door.

For larger areas, consider planting a showstopping tree as the centerpiece. Japanese maples with their crimson leaves or a magnolia with its huge fragrant blooms shout “look at me!” which is exactly what you want to accomplish.

The possibilities are endless, but the goal remains the same – create an entrance so beautiful that it naturally draws the eye as soon as someone enters your property. Dazzle them right from the start, and they’ll never notice what you’re trying to downplay in another part of the yard.

Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting is a great way to highlight the best features of your yard while diverting attention away from eyesores. Strategically placed lighting draws the eye towards beautiful plants, trees, patios and other areas you want to showcase.

Uplighting in trees creates a magical effect at night. Try uplighting a large mature tree at the front of your property. The eye will be drawn upwards to the glow in the branches, completely avoiding any unsightly areas below.

Path lighting is another great option. Lining a front walkway or driveway with small, warm lights guides visitors right to your front door. The lighting encourages people to look ahead at the welcoming entrance instead of noticing any flaws off to the sides.

Spotlights on architectural or garden elements are also useful. Shining a light directly on a beautiful fountain, bird bath or flower garden makes these features really stand out after dark. The spotlighting pulls focus, so visitors look towards these highlights rather than anything you want to downplay.

Overall, strategic lighting at night can transform an ordinary yard into a showcase. Darkness hides eyesores while the lighting draws attention only where you want it. This creates a magical, welcoming effect that completely distracts from any flaws.

Stunning Patios and Walkways

A well-designed patio or walkway is an excellent way to draw the eye and distract from utility boxes or other unwanted yard features. The hardscape elements serve as a focal point, naturally attracting attention.

Gorgeous patterns, textures, and colors in the pavement pull the gaze. Unique designs, varying shapes and materials give the hardscape visual interest. The patio or walkway becomes a piece of art.

Carefully designed lighting along the edges of the patio or walkway will further enhance its beauty at night. Uplighting on nearby trees also shifts focus. The goal is to create an ambiance that directs attention toward the patio itself.

More Distraction Ideas

While a beautiful entrance and landscaping are excellent ways to distract from unwanted yard features, there are some additional techniques you can use as well. Consider adding a water feature like a small pond or fountain, as the sight and sound of moving water naturally draws the eye. Strategically placed garden sculptures, whether whimsical, modern, or classical, also make great focal points.

For a different texture, try incorporating boulders or rock formations into your landscape design. The ruggedness of the boulders contrast nicely against plants and greenery. Just make sure that all of these elements are thoughtfully designed to your yard. The goal is to enhance curb appeal, not clutter up the space!

With some creativity and strategic planning, you can transform your landscape into a welcoming oasis that directs attention towards the home’s beauty rather than any unsightly fixtures or utilities that happen to be present. The end result will be a yard that looks and feels like a private sanctuary, allowing you to fully relax and enjoy your beautiful space.