Ode on a Cable Box
Behold the cable box.
What, you might ask, is it doing on my lawn?
The cable-box-as-lawn-ornament is ubiquitous in what real estate agents like to call "newer" neighborhoods. Ours is a baby hippo-sized structure circa 1989 and it has become the bane of my existence. This hideous object occupies prime real estate in my front yard, where it shares the spotlight with two other eyesores: a combo street sign/stop sign and a Progress Energy street light. The trio make a mockery of my design schemes and my garden photography. For better or worse, they are the bones of my front yard garden.
In fairness, I am bound to admit that the cable box and its two skinny friends got there first. Nor was it their idea to create a front yard garden; had I just kept the yard an expanse of lawn plus the obligatory 6 x 6 mailbox garden, they would have seemed less egregious. So yes, this is a problem of my own making. But while I am perfectly willing to take responsibility, I am extremely reluctant to take the consequences - in this case, a photography and garden design dilemma that has absolutely no solution.
Let's review the options. The street light and street sign/stop sign are untouchable. They belong to the town. The cable box perhaps could be painted a better shade, but I doubt that would help. Cheesy fake boulders and their ilk would make things worse. Wooden lattice screens seem to scream "Look, there's a cable box under here!" In fact, covering the box at all is complicated by the reality that "they" - those mysterious figures from the various power and cable companies - may need access to it at some point.
At least I am not alone. Online, one very frustrated mischief maker went so far as to recommend that the offending cable box meet with an unfortunate "accident" in the dead of night, thus spurring the power company to replace it with a newer, sleeker, and (presumably) more garden-friendly model. This sounds borderline illegal. I'll pass.
So let's recap. Removing it is impossible. Disguising it is hopeless. Vandalizing it is unethical. Ignoring it would seem to be the only remaining option. I can do that. My camera is another story.
Oh my, I have the same problem and wrote a post on it ages ago too! I sympathize with you. In our newer neighborhood some boxes are randomly plopped in front yards right in line of sight of the front door. At least ours are at the foot of the driveway. They are directly under the street light, so the only thing you see at night when you come to my house is a lit up refrigerator sized green box and two skewed tilting pipe things. An eyesore of a welcome.
1/12/2013 02:33:11 am
You would think the developers would give a little more thought to such things, but no. Jason has a nice suggestion above that I'm going to mull over. Would that work for you as well?
A low flagstone dry stacked wall is always gorgeous, but I fear it would make a shrine of the eyesore. My box is over three feet high so the wall would have to be fortress sized and might look like it was encircling something revered. A great suggestion for a lower utility box, though!
1/11/2013 11:40:55 am
Hmm. That's interesting. I do have some shrubs on one side of it already - but maybe a flagstone wall is a possibility for the other sides. Thanks so much for the suggestion!
1/11/2013 12:12:21 pm
I think you should paint it gray and pretend it is a baby hippo.
1/12/2013 02:35:48 am
A lot of the time I am able to ignore the box, especially when the garden is in full bloom. But in winter, it's painfully obvious.
The company I design for landscapes around them. As long as it does not interfere with maintenance, most places allow this. I get not making it a shrine though. Many companies do that with short sheered shrubs. We block them from view with conifers and perennials where space allows.
1/12/2013 08:12:00 am
That sounds like an ideal solution where there's space for it. Naturally, in the winter the box would be exposed more, but you can't have everything!
Oh, I feel your pain! We have an absolutely enormous box that is the cable/power hub for us as well as several of our neighbors. Of course it is our luck to be the ones to get the box! Ours is right on the corner of our driveway and the sidewalk, so I am contemplating some sort of skinny plants/shrubs to try and mask it. One gardener suggested planting rosemary, which might be an option.
1/14/2013 11:52:40 pm
Hi Indie. I've seen rosemary around some of these boxes and believe me, it doesn't help. I prefer your idea of painting it to look like a monster, which it is, kind of. Remember the famous Raleigh barrel monster? It could be in the same vein.
1/22/2013 08:05:18 am
Have you thought about planting some ornamental grasses near by? You'd still be stuck looking at it in the winter but it's an effective disguise. At least you could plant a barrier between the back of the box and you. Only the front would be visible.
1/22/2013 09:28:13 am
I did consider ornamental grasses, but actually had some muhly grass there. But it's not sunny enough there, so the grasses just kind of sat there. I like the idea of setting it on fire. There's nothing on cable anyway...
5/18/2013 09:50:33 am
We have two of these in our front yard. They are ugly and one is crooked. I am trying to think of plants to hide these eyesores.
5/19/2013 05:05:11 am
If you find any that work, let me know what they are. I have given up even trying and have decided to treat them as abstract art.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
The Galloping Horse Gardener is a native New Yorker who packed it in in 2005 to live under the radar in Cary, North Carolina. In 2014, she removed to a new secure location somewhere in Raleigh.
Follow the Blog
Problems signing up? Send me an email and let me know.