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

Garden problems from Centreville VA
July 23, 2011 - Plants die, trees won't grow. I've replaced the soil (6") twice. Replaced grass twice and planted new plants and tree. After two yrs, the tree is still the same size and the flowering bushes nea...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a Shady Woodland in MA
June 09, 2013 - Hello, I am looking for natives to plant in full shade or part shade. My house is in the mountain woodland area of Mt. Washington, MA. I am looking for grasses, flowers and shrubs. Also I am looking f...
view the full question and answer

Scarifying seeds of evergreen sumacs from Lockhart TX
May 19, 2013 - Dear Smarty Plants, We would like to grow our own evergreen sumacs. Consulting Nokes book, How to Grow Native Plants on page 310, it says to scarify fresh uncleaned seeds for 30-45 minutes. On page...
view the full question and answer

Native replacement for Mexican heather in Llano, TX
April 24, 2009 - Please suggest a native or adaptable alternative plant for Mexican Heather.
view the full question and answer

Low Shrubs for Under First Floor Windows in DC
February 24, 2015 - I'm in search of bushes to plant under the first floor windows of an apartment building I manage. I'm interested in both deterring intruders and in making the grounds more attractive. Any suggestion...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center