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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.

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

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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.

 

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