Utility boxes are built for function not beauty, so figuring out how to hide an electric transformer box with landscaping is something many homeowners want to do. Although you can't move the box and you need to keep it accessible, it doesn't need to take center stage. Well-placed hedges, plantings or screens help draw the attention away from the box and onto the yard's more decorative elements.
Check Utility Company Guidelines
Before you hide an electric transformer box with landscaping, check with the utility company to familiarize yourself with any restrictions. In some cases, clearances might be required around the transformer to allow for easy access. Ask your utility company how close you can place landscaping features before you start your plans.
In addition, underground cables and wires might be located underground near a transformer, which can pose a safety risk if your landscaping involves digging. Call the national digging alert hotline at 811 before digging as part of any landscaping project. Utilities will send workers to mark the locations of underground wires, cables and pipes.
Install Electric Transformer Box Fencing
If you just want to hide the transformer and aren't concerned about it blending it with the landscape, install fencing or another type of screen around it. Picket fencing that is as tall as the transformer can hide the box from view and add charm to the yard. For an even more decorative look, put up lattice panels around the transformer or build a wooden box to slip over it.
No matter which method you choose, make sure the transformer is still accessible. You may only want to enclose the transformer on three sides or build the box with a door or hinged panel. For a smaller structure, keeping it movable allows workers to move it out of the way when they need access.
Grow a Plant Screen
If you don't just want to conceal the transformer but help it disappear into the landscape, creating a screen with plants is one effective option. Hedges such as emerald arborvitate (Thuja occidentalis 'Emerald,' hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3 through 7) and north privet (Ligustrum x ibolium, hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8) create an effective screen.
You can also plant tall ornamental grasses, such as fountaingrass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum,' hardy USDA zones 5 through 9) and feather reed grass ( Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster,' hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9), around the transformer to hide it without disrupting the flow of the landscape.
As with fencing, though, plant in a way that allows access to the transformer. Also, consider the root system of the plants you choose. Plants with deep roots can damage the wiring underground. Vining plants can grow onto the box and make it difficult for workers to access it.
Create a Distraction
You don't necessarily have to create a complete screen or cover to hide an electric transformer box with landscaping. By placing decorative elements in front of or beside the transformer, you can block it from view and help distract from its appearance.
Consider placing a large boulder or other decorative rock in front of the transformer box. Add other smaller boulders and gravel to create a rock garden around the transformer. A large garden statue or fountain in front of the transformer also takes attention away from the box.
- University of Idaho Extension: Landscaping and Utilities: Problems, Prevention, and Plant Selection
- Arbor Day Foundation: Emerald Arborvitae: Thuja occidentalis 'Emerald'
- Arbor Day Foundation: North Privet: Ligustrum x ibolium
- Midwest Living: Best Ornamental Grasses for Midwest Gardens
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Calamagrostis × acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'
- PWC Connections: Fayette Public Works Commission: Planting Around Utilities
- This Old House: How to Design a Plant Screen
- HGTV: 10 Clever Ways to Hide Outside Eyesores
Based in New York City, Jennifer Blair has been covering all things home and garden since 2001. Her writing has appeared on BobVila.com, World Lifestyle, and House Logic. Blair holds a Bachelor of Arts in Writing Seminars from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.