Great Garden Cover-Ups | Midwest Living

Great Garden Cover-Ups

Even the most beautiful yards have a few blemishes; here's how to cover them up.
  • Accessorize a Pole

    A clematis vine offers a blooming disguise to a less-than-elegant support pole. Because clematis can't grab anything much thicker than 1/2 inch, the homeowner loosely stapled vinyl bird fencing to the pole. Short plants around the base of the pole hide the vine's "bare ankles."

  • Grassy Screen

    Use tall plants as screens to hide sections of your yard you'd rather not see. Here, zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinius') grows 4 feet tall, making the garage behind it almost disappear. To hide a taller structure, grow 8-foot-tall giant feathergrass (Stipa gigantea).

    Ornamental Grasses Garden Plan

  • Lattice Cover-Up

    Plants aren't always appropriate or practical for shielding utilities. On this deck, a simple, lattice-covered wooden box covers a meter. Hinging the front panel gives easy access for meter readers. Because it allows air flow, lattice is also an appropriate cover-up for air conditioner units.

  • Skirting a Foundation

    When it comes to covering up an unsightly foundation, you aren't limited to ho-hum evergreens. In fact, you can use just about any plant that does well in your area. Here, a graduated series of plants (tall roses to low-growing lady's mantle (Achemilla mollis) makes a smooth transition from porch to pathway.

    Foundation Garden Plan

  • A Living Fence

    This majestic hedge covers up a four-foot-tall chain-link fence and provides privacy at the same time. Good, fast-growing hedge plants include border privet (Ligustrum obtusifolium), cutleaf Stephandra incisa, dwarf butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica), and scarlet firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea).

  • Break Up a Brick Wall

    Break up monotonous expanses of attractive masonry with decorations and vines. In this case, green birdhouses and leafy trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans) are perfect foils to the red brick. Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) frames the bottom of the wall. Select clinging vines like ivy and Virginia creeper for growing on masonry walls; twining vines like clematis can also be used, but require added supports.

  • Plant the Crevices

    Soften stone walkways with carpeting made of plants. Some rugged low-growers like thyme (Thymus spp.), sedum (Sedum spp.), and mint (Mentha spp.) thrive in the cramped spaces between pavers or bricks. In warmer climates, grow baby's tears (Soleirolia soleirolii), and lavender cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus). Use a mixture of topsoil and compost to form a home for each sprig you plant.

  • Drowning Out the Noise

    Not all garden blemishes are visual. The splashing of this ornate patio fountain masks the noises of the city just over the wall. Even a small freestanding fountain can serve the same purpose, drowning out the din of passing cars.

  • Framing a View

    Sometimes you don't want to totally obliterate a view. Here, a jumbo porthole frames an attractive vista, while the surrounding fence blocks the less desirable views to either side.

    Fence-Building Basics

  • Framing a Window

    A plain window gets a facelift with this lavender-pink trumpet vine (Campsis radicans). The benefits are double: views both inside and outside the house improve. The trumpet vine's holdfasts cling to the house's masonry siding. Don't use clinging vines on wood structures; choose twining vines instead and provide a supporting structure that holds the vine away from the house.

  • A Delicious Cover-Up

    Espalier is the art of training tree branches to grow in patterns. Here, an apple tree has been espaliered against a wooden fence. Although the technique takes time and expertise to accomplish, the result can be a permanent, beautiful, and tasty addition to a home.

  • Plant Some Artwork

    When you don't have time to wait for plants to provide the cover you need, consider a quicker alternative. A professionally painted mural enlivens this large expanse of stucco with humor and beauty.

  • Made in the Shade

    Although we don't always think of it as a blemish, the hot summer sun is one feature you may want to cover up, but welcome back in the cooler months. Deciduous vines are the perfect solution. Here, a dense vine shades a patio in summer, but gives ups its leaves in the fall to admit the warming rays.

    A Simple Garden Arbor

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