February 5, 2010

Edison's Refrigerator

I have a problem.  The first thing you see in our yard is a grouping of industrial green electrical boxes, right at the entrance to our driveway.  At least the refrigerator sized thing in front is sitting level; the pipes to the underworld behind it are canted in opposing directions.   They were placed right under the streetlamp, so at night they sit in a lovely pool of yellow light, the only thing in the yard lit up at all:

Every third or fourth house in our development has these in their yards, where the builder helpfully installed them in the choicest spots, at corners, by entrances, and in some cases smack in line with the front door.

Some of our neighbors deal with it by making shrines, circling the objects with conifer acolytes.  Notice how the submissive electrical box on the left is bowing to the big guy (and even has a rock offering to bestow.  If you enlarge the photo you'll see it).  The pipe on the right is only nodding slightly to the great one in the middle.  The trees circle around to bear witness:

Other homeowners go for an abandoned cemetery headstone look, but I don't have enough room to allow weeds and brambles to do the screening:

Some neighbors have completely surrounded their problem eyesores with lovely grasses, but I'm pretty sure if you check with the utility company, they'll tell you don't do that, and make you cut this planting back by half:

One neighbor embraced the idea of fun in the front yard, adopted his utility box, and gave it a friend:

Garden Gate magazine has a good article on hiding boxes, and one suggestion is to make the screening bed irregular to draw the eye away, not toward the offending hulk.  If you just circle the eyesore, you get this - a little temple in the woods:
I've seen the somewhat realistic looking fiberglass "rocks" that cover utility boxes, but I can't find one that is refrigerator sized, and our utility company bans them anyway. 

What to do with mine?  Until I can figure something out, it sits in its pool of light, highlighted by the lamppost.  I might paint my house number and Welcome on it if the electric company lets me.


  1. You might have something there. Paint it to look like a boulder with carved house numbers. I have seen these beasts in the newer subdivisons. I think it is still better to have them than those utility poles with wires strung through the neighborhood. I will be curious to see what you do with this. At least yours isn't right across from your front door. When the city was putting in new sewer lines they wanted to put a huge ugly drain right in front of our front door. Luckily I was home and talked them into putting it off to the side. I don't have to see it all of the time and it still does its job.

  2. Hi Lisa. Instead of painting it to look like something unnatural such as a square boulder, I might paint it white and add a handle and the letters "Frigidaire".

  3. I think you need military camouflage with a gardeners touch - pretty leaves painted on it ;-)

  4. Hi Garden Ms. S. I need a good artist to do some camouflage or florals, I can't paint! Maybe stick-on decals would work.

  5. Gosh, there's one of the advantages of living in the boondocks...no ugly things like these to deal with. Mind you, no streetlights, sidewalks, fire hydrants either, but we can handle those minor details. I like the grass plantings but I can see how the power company wouldn't want their precious boxes totally obscured. What to do, what to do....

  6. It's true, all attempts at landscaping only seem to highlight those type of things. What's worse, a lot of landscaping attempts really do appear to be highlighting them on purpose.

  7. Jodi: we don't have overhead wires in the trees, and never get outages in storms, but what a trade off, having these ugly boxes all around! I envy your rural setting (have been up the east side of Fundy, it's lovely!)

    Sweetbay, you are so right, landscaping only highlights these things, best to leave them alone. Mine sits under the only streetlight, so it's featured no matter what I could do to hide it!

  8. Laurrie, thanks for pointing to me to this post. I love your image of a shrine - that's exactly what it looks like! I suppose I, too, should be grateful that the power lines are buried in my neighborhood - but can't them make something a little sleeker and less tacky to hide the stuff?

    1. Sarah, there has to be a whole industry out there to convert utility boxes into something more attractive, or re-design them somehow. We're not the only ones to struggle with these monstrosities!


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