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Eyesore to Asset

Updated on November 2, 2015

The Nitty Gritty

An article with instructions and photos for gardeners who seek to get utility from their Utility. You are about to learn how to implement a cost effective and professional plan to safely de-emphasize and landscape around the stark nature of an unsightly electrical utility box. Utility boxes are owned by utility companies. Be sure to first call before you dig! Then, determine the size of the area to be planted and mulched. Once this step is completed, do the following:

  • Pull or rake out all weeds, dead leaves and any small stone or clumps of dirt.
  • Level area with a small rake or suitable hand tool.
  • Wipe down the electrical box casement with a damp cloth. If this is not possible, sweep the outer box casement broom clean.

Carefree Flower Mix

Shallow rooted plants are the best choice given that short root systems that do not readily interfere with or likely to grow into the unit. Potted flowers make an excellent choice and their roots are easily contained using a plate placed under the pot. A list of suitable flowers for both in-ground and containers can include: coleus, ajuga reptans, lavender, blue fescue, petunia, yarrow, sweet alyssum, and Sweet William. Additionally, your favorite search engine or gardening store are readily available for help! Remember that electrical units emit heat and for this reason, select plants that can stand up to the heat-especially during the summer months!

Supplies and Instructions:

  • Select a quality soil . A composition of part compost and part manure works well.
  • Plant flowers about six inches to one foot from the unit. If your unit sits atop a concrete slab, situate the flowers six inches from the slab.
  • The height of flowers should not obstruct the unit from utility company servicing.
  • Decorative pots make a superb choice because they can be conveniently moved. Clay pots offer a natural look and retain moisture better than metal containers-which can become dangerously hot.
  • Suitable mulching materials include crushed marble chips, pea gravel or larger gravel. Gravel in a variety of colors can be mixed for an interesting visual effect and texture. It is important to avoid wood mulch and/or wood chips. Wood is a fire hazard around a utility box. For this reason, wooden pergolas, arches and the like should be avoided within and above the area.
  • Larger decorative stones or small boulders strategically placed on the gravel mulch also lend a professional and natural appearance to the area. Gravel does not break down and should only need to be touched up every other year.
  • At the end of the season, perennials can be cut back about four to six inches from the ground. Annuals can be removed and added to a compost heap.
  • Cost for an area about 6' x 5' with all materials can be achieved for about $100.00.

Great Job!

Now that flowers and pots and gravel are in place, it is time to stand back and give yourself a hearty pat on the back! While man-made obstructions such as utility boxes may never disappear, a simple garden project with added dazzling gardening elements will always draw the eye and compliments from neighbors.

Important Reminders

  • Always call before you dig.
  • Condo owners can check with their board or management company for city ordinances.
  • Gravel or marble chips will not retain heat.

A mix of white marble chips and red gravel with decorative stone.
A mix of white marble chips and red gravel with decorative stone. | Source
Chasmanthium lends a lovely coolness on a hot day.
Chasmanthium lends a lovely coolness on a hot day. | Source
Clay flower pot loaded with summer perennials.
Clay flower pot loaded with summer perennials. | Source
Ajuga reptans, hens and chicks, and a yellow sedum complete the utility box façade.
Ajuga reptans, hens and chicks, and a yellow sedum complete the utility box façade. | Source


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