En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - June 15, 2007

From: Oxford, CT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Effective plant cover for utility boxes
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

In Connecticut, we have utility boxes for underground electricity and cable located in front of our house. The builder has landscaped around them: first with rhododendrons and then azaleas and both have died. What should we suggest they plant that would hide the boxes and yet look nice directly in front of our house? The area gets full sun and the soil is very rocky.

ANSWER:

Your chances for success will be improved by first improving the soil around the utility boxes. Adding some rich topsoil, or woodland leaf mold will provide organic matter that your landscape planting needs to succeed.

Some native shrubs that might work for you are:

Juniperus communis (common juniper)

Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae)

Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern)

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Leucothoe axillaris (coastal doghobble)

Spiraea alba (white meadowsweet)

However, you should consult with local native plant experts and nursery professionals for recommendations specific to your local conditions.

 

More Shrubs Questions

Windbreak [Dustbreak] for Shelton, WA
May 31, 2013 - I live on a well traveled, dusty, gravel road in the Pacific North West and would like to plant a barrier to help control the dust.
view the full question and answer

Is slow growth of young Tx mountain laurel normal?
July 02, 2012 - My Texas mountain laurel is 2 or 3 years old and is about 4 feet tall. It seems quite healthy but has grown very little, if any, and has never bloomed. Is this normal? Although I don't want it to gro...
view the full question and answer

Trees Planted Over Underground Parking Garage
July 13, 2014 - I live in an apartment complex. We have trees planted over an underground parking lot. I know the names of all the trees and I want to know how much soil they should be planted in to NOT cause damage ...
view the full question and answer

Fragrant native plants for San Antonio, TX
August 19, 2009 - I live in San Antonio, Texas, and I am re-landscaping my backyard after my dog ate some of the beautiful blooming oleander and had to spend some time at the vet's. My backyard is my sanctuary, and it...
view the full question and answer

Western Azalea (Rhododendron occidentale) for Southern California
May 04, 2006 - Are there any fragrant varieties of azalea that will grow in Southern California? There are some wonderful native azaleas I found in North Carolina, such as the r. alabamense and r. atlanticum. I h...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center