En EspaŅol

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?


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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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


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.


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

Native roses and other flowering shrubs for Lufkin, Texas
February 23, 2009 - I would like to know some native blooming shrubs, and roses for my area. I have found that all of the old native plants have a greater success rate. I would like to find a white shrub rose for plant...
view the full question and answer

When (and whether) to plant non-native red-tip photinia in Austin
October 30, 2011 - With the current and forecast drought I'm wondering if the usual rules about when to plant might change. I'd like to plant red-tip photinia.
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrubs or small trees for privacy in Cumming GA
May 11, 2010 - I have a eight foot fence in my back yard. My back yard is full of trees and is very shady in the late spring and summer months and in the winter when the leaves fall is very bare. I am looking for...
view the full question and answer

Stress in potted Tif blueberry plants
August 15, 2008 - Recently purchased Tif Blue Blueberry plants (about 3 ft tall)are showing signs of stress. They are in 10 gallon pots. Should they be transplanted? Medium? Fertilizer? Location? Trimming?
view the full question and answer

New Jersey Tea shrub wilting and losing leaves
December 30, 2013 - I have New Jersey Tea shrubs transplanted last spring from nursery stock (18 tall, grown local) I live in SE WI. They are planted in part shade. There has been 6" of snow on the ground for weeks now...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center