Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Need shrubs to plant alongside a swimming pool in Tampa, FL.
September 05, 2011 - I Have a 3 1/2 foot gap between my pool screen and back fence. This gap runs about 30 ft. long. I would like to place small trees to look beautiful and to grow 6-8 ft. high to screen out my neighbor...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Citrus Suckers
October 06, 2014 - Mr. Smarty Plants, you are the only person that has "not" insisted that the little balls on Satsuma and lemon trees were clumps of bugs. They are surely what you described in the answer to my previo...
view the full question and answer

Non-native gardenias in Southampton Ontario
July 31, 2012 - I purchased 3 gardenias this year for the garden. Now I'm told that I can't leave them out all year round here in mid/western Ontario. Is this true, and if so, how do I keep them over the winter i...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a lakeside bank in NC
November 07, 2011 - Our association is looking to plant a huge sloped area that runs down to Lake Wylie. We want to plant something that is good for erosion and that does not grow too tall so that we keep our view of th...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs growing in riparian areas of Hudson River, NY
August 04, 2009 - What are the five most common native shrubs that grow in riparian areas in Hudson Valley? Interested especially in plants that grow near/along the Hudson River (as opposed to inland woodland freshwate...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.