The Best Ways to Hide Garbage Bins and Other Ugly Outdoor Features

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If you’ve put any effort into making your yard and outdoor space beautiful—or at the very least, livable—you have probably encountered certain features or fixtures that stick out like sore thumbs, threatening to ruin your carefully curated aesthetic. These are your garden hoses, HVAC units, utility meters, plumbing pipes, and garbage bins, to name a few.

But you aren’t stuck staring at these eyesores every time you go outside if you put a little bit of effort into hiding them. Here are the best ways to cover up those ugly fixtures.

Put up a fence or privacy screen

The most straightforward way to hide an eyesore is to install a fence, privacy screen, or box to cover it up. This can work especially well for garbage bins or large HVAC units that are visible from multiple angles. You can upgrade even further by selecting a decorative panel or natural plant screen, painting the fencing, or adding vertical garden elements (more on this below).

Add a trellis or plant a vertical garden

If you want a more natural look, consider installing a trellis or adding vining plants that will grow up your fence (especially if you need to cover chain links). Be sure to select a climbing plant that makes sense for your space and seasons. Alternatively, you can create a vertical garden out of items like ladders, pallets, and even shoe organizers.

If you don’t have something for plants to grow or vine up, you can still arrange individual pots in front of or around the feature you want to hide. This allows you to keep your barriers mobile for easy access.

Install a birdhouse or birdbath

For utility boxes or wall-mounted meters and panels, consider building a three-sided birdhouse you can mount around the fixture (and with a door that can still open to provide easy access). Birdbaths can also offer some camouflage for ground-level features.

Add an attractive container or a distraction

A simple stand, wall mount, or reel might be an easy way to store your garden hose, but it’s certainly not the most aesthetically pleasing. Consider a pot with a hole or an outdoor bench with storage, both which will hide the hose entirely.

If you can’t cover a fixture, install something that draws the eye (or ear) away from it. The sound of a water feature can cover the buzzing of an HVAC unit, for example, while a garden sculpture, fire pit, or patio furniture can distract from other unsightly features.

Paint

If you have a boring fence or plain pipes, consider painting them either to camouflage (matching what’s nearby or the exterior of your home) or to add a decorative element. For example, you can create an industrial feel by painting exposed plumbing pipes matte black or a metallic hue. Make sure you use paint or spray paint that’s intended for the material you’re covering up.

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