15 Perfect Plants for Hiding Unsightly Areas in the Garden

Tired of looking at an ugly utility box or your neighbor’s trash bins? Have you considered using plants to cover these unpleasant objects or views? Certified Master Gardener Laura Elsner has 15 plants you can use to cover unsightly objects in your garden.

Vivid purple clematis, flourishing in a lush garden, showcases its bluish-purple blooms in full splendor. The flowers, a vibrant display, adorn the arching trellis, embracing its support. Surrounding greenery frames the clematis, offering a harmonious garden landscape with scattered blooms.


Gardening is about creating a beautiful space. But sometimes, we have unchangeable and necessary objects that stick out and are unattractive. Utility boxes, garbage bins, old fences, air conditioners, or even your neighbor’s house can all be an eyesore.

Using plants to block out unpleasant views provides a natural and beautiful solution. Let’s look at 15 plants you can use to cover unsightly objects in your garden.

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1. Boxwood

A close-up of a meticulously shaped boxwood plant reveals its circular, trimmed leaves. Planted amidst green grasses, this boxwood stands out with its well-maintained form. The intricate details of the foliage complement the surrounding verdant environment.
These evergreen shrubs are easily trimmed into your desired shape.
botanical-name botanical name Buxus sp.
height height 3-15’ (depending on species)
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Boxwood is one of my favorite choices for covering unsightly objects. They are evergreen, grow in thick and lush, and can be pruned into hedges or any other shape to suit your covering needs.

Boxwoods are great for covering unsightly objects that never or rarely need to be accessed as they are thick and woody shrubs. When used as hedges, they can block one side of a view like your trash bins. They can also be used in containers and moved around to black out various objects.

Boxwood shrubs thrive in full to part sun. They benefit from afternoon shade in hot areas or areas with particularly hot sun. They also should have some protection from dry winter winds.

2. Clematis

A close-up of a clematis plant showcases its exquisite, fully bloomed flowers adorned with white and pink petal markings. The lush green leaves complement the vibrant blooms, creating an enchanting display of nature's beauty.
Cover fences with flowering clematis.
botanical-name botanical name Clematis sp
height height 20’ (species dependant)
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-11

Clematis is a nice perennial vine that can climb onto structures and block views. The flowers are stunning and can turn a bad view into a beautiful display. 

Clematis need something to climb on. Unsightly chain link fences can be covered in beautiful clematis vines. Other fences you want to cover will require netting or some sort of trellis for the vine to grab hold of.

Clematis grows best in full sun. I find they can take more full sun as long as you keep their bottom or ‘feet’ cooler. Plant other plants around the base to keep it shaded.

3. Dogwood

Dogwood plants thrive in the garden, characterized by their distinctive leaves and stems. Amidst the smooth green lawn, these plants flourish, adding texture and depth to the landscape. Their foliage stands out against the serene backdrop.
Dogwoods are lush in spring and summer before shedding leaves in fall.
botanical-name botanical name Cornus alba
height height 6-9’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Dogwoods are nice woody shrubs or small trees that can cover unsightly areas of your garden. They grow quite dense and lush in the spring and summer. They will lose their leaves in the fall. But the attractive red stems (they come in other colors like yellow and pink, too) can partially obscure an unsightly view in the winter.

I love ‘Ivory Halo’ dogwoods. They have pretty variegated foliage and bright red stems. They grow very thick and lush. ‘Ivory Halo’ can also take shade conditions, which makes them great for blocking out air conditioning units or electrical boxes in shady corners.

If you find your dogwood is losing its bright red stems, it is time to flush it down. Cut it right down to the ground, and new shoots will emerge. I do this in the fall or early spring. 

4. Emerald Cedar

A close-up of an Emerald Cedar plant, highlighting its yellow-green leaves. The blurred background enhances the foliage, portraying a serene ambiance with varying shades of greenery. The captivating hue of the cedar leaves dominates the focal point of the image.
Keep emerald cedars out of harsh, direct afternoon sun.
botanical-name botanical name Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’
height height 6-15’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Emerald cedar is a nice, dense, conical-shaped evergreen shrub. They are usually fairly inexpensive at garden centers, and they provide dense and tall coverage.

You can also plant them in containers. This makes them useful on decks and patios. They can be planted in groups to make a screen from neighbors or the road.

Emerald cedars work best in part sun conditions. They will burn and die off if exposed to too much sun.

5. Hedge Cotoneaster

A close-up of the Hedge Cotoneaster plant, showcasing its vibrant multicolored foliage. The leaves display a striking mix of red and green hues, adding depth and visual interest to the plant's composition. The surrounding leaves create a lush, natural backdrop.
Cotoneaster, an excellent hedge option, thrives in full sun with well-drained soil.
botanical-name botanical name Cotoneaster lucidus
height height 6-10’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-7

Cotoneaster is a great shrub to use as a hedge. It grows thick. Even without leaves in the winter, the woody stems provide a screen from unsightly objects in your garden. 

They can cover unity boxes or divide properties and block out neighbors. If you are blocking views of an item you need access to, be sure to leave a pathway. They grow dense, and you will be unable to pass through them.

Cotoneaster prefers full sun and well-drained soil. The more you prune them, the denser they will get. You can prune them into any shape you desire for coverage.

6. Italian Cypress

A close-up of the Italian Cypress plant, revealing its slender branches adorned with abundant green leaves. The foliage of this plant boasts a unique scale-like appearance, adding texture and character. Small, distinct cones pepper the branches, adding a charming touch to its overall structure.
Tall and evergreen Italian cypresses are perfect for concealing unattractive areas in the garden.
botanical-name botanical name Cupressus sempervirens
height height 40-60’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7-11

Italian cypress trees are tall, evergreen trees that fully cover a less-than-pleasant view

Plant them close together and in a row to create a natural screen. You can plant them along a fence, and they will grow much taller than the fence to cover neighboring houses. You can also plant them in large pots for a screen on your deck or add some privacy in a hot tub area.

Italian cypress likes full sun and rich, well-drained soil.

7. Juniper

Rich green needled foliage of creeping juniper shines on an overcast day.
Creeping junipers are ideal for covering ground panels.
botanical-name botanical name Juniperus spp.
height height species dependant
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

There are so many types of junipers to choose from when planning your garden. These evergreen shrubs are perfect for covering unsightly garden objects. 

Tall vertical junipers such as ‘Wichita Blue’ can block out ugly fences or views of the neighboring property. Savin junipers are low junipers that fan upwards, making them a good choice for covering low electrical/utility boxes and foundations. Creeping junipers can cover ground panels. Just make sure you can move the branches to access them when you need to.

Junipers prefer full sun and well-drained soil. Prune off winter kill to keep them looking healthy.

8. Karl Foerster Grass

A close-up reveals Karl Foerster grasses, resembling wheat with cottony textures and vibrant green leaves. Surrounding them are verdant green plants, forming a lush and natural background rich in organic hues and textures.
Providing coverage for three seasons, Karl Foerster brings both structure and beauty to your garden.
botanical-name botanical name Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ 
height height 4-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Karl Foerster is a tall wheat-like grass that is just the thing to cover unsightly objects like air conditioners, electrical boxes, or trash bins. They provide three-season coverage and add structure to your garden.

They will grow up in the spring and be tall, graceful bunches of wheat. I don’t cut them down in the fall. I leave them up through the winter and cut them back in spring. Sometimes, I will even leave them up in the spring. If they are small and not messy-looking, the new growth will grow into the old growth for a striking effect.

Karl Foerster is a great option for unsightly areas you might still have to access occasionally. They can easily be pushed aside to look through (e.g., For a gas meter). 

They prefer well-drained soil and full sun.

9. Pampas Grass

A close-up of Pampas Grass clusters showcasing cottony, airy, white blooms atop long, elegant stems. Below, lush green grasses complement the scene, set within a vibrant garden lawn. Towering trees create a serene backdrop, adding depth and natural charm to the setting.
These grasses are resilient to drought and salt, making them an ideal option for neglected garden spots.
botanical-name botanical name Cortaderia selloana
height height 6-10’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7-11

Pampas grass is a tall, striking grass with spectacular tufts. They can grow very tall and wide (up to 10’ x 10’) and provide a thick, lush screen for unsightly objects, from unattractive foundations to air conditioners.

Pampas come in shades of white and pink and add whimsy to your garden.  They only require pruning in the late winter to early spring to allow for new growth.

Provide full sun and well-drained soil. This grass is drought and salt-tolerant, making it a great choice for the neglected areas of your garden.

Be forewarned that pampas grass can be invasive in certain parts of the US, such as California. Warm climates provide the perfect location for them to establish and spread.

10. Ribbon Grass

A close-up of Ribbon grass displays delicate cream-colored blooms, adding soft accents amid vibrant green blades. The leaves, broad and slender, form elegant cascades around the blossoms, creating a graceful, textured composition within the frame.
Growing to approximately three feet tall, ribbon grass allows easy access to whatever it conceals.
botanical-name botanical name Phalaris arundinacea
height height 2-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Ribbon grass is invasive in some regions. Check your local government website to see if it is an invasive species in your area. It does spread. Ribbon grass can cover a large area, which makes it a great choice for covering things like air conditioners, utility boxes, or ugly foundations. It grows about three feet high.

Ribbon grass prefers part shade. It will also tolerate standing water. You can place it on the edge of a water feature and use it to cover the pump box. 

11. Rosemary

The creeping rosemary plant showcases dense clusters of dainty purple-blue spikes, clustered in an exquisite display against its slender foliage. The leaves, needle-like and fragrant, complement the vibrant bloom, catching and absorbing the sunlight in their lushness.
This versatile plant offers the bonus of being a culinary or medicinal herb.
botanical-name botanical name Rosmarinus officinalis
height height 2-6’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7-10

Rosemary is an evergreen shrub. This makes it perfect for covering up unsightly objects in your garden. 

Their foliage is thick and dense and can be pruned into hedges. This is great for covering electrical boxes, low fences, garbage bins, and other unsightly objects. Leave an opening in the dense shrubbery if access to the object is needed.

Rosemary needs full sun and well-drained soil. As a bonus, you can snip off bits of it and use it as a culinary or medicinal herb. 

12. Russian Sage

Russian Sage stands tall, adorned with silvery-purple spikes that gracefully dance on its branches, accentuating the plant's slender elegance. Its slender leaves, tinged with green and gray, offer a delicate contrast, while the backdrop of greenery bathes in sunlight, enhancing the sage's allure.
Russian sage has lovely silver foliage and attracts pollinators with its purple flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Perovskia atriplicifolia
height height 2-4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

This lovely woody perennial can cover up objects quickly. It has silver foliage and purple flowers that pollinators love. It’s a simple perennial that can disguise electrical boxes, air conditioning units, or any other low and unsightly objects. It grows thick and full and can provide full coverage. 

Russian sage likes full sun and well-drained soil. It is hardy and drought-tolerant. I usually keep it up in the winter and then trim it back in spring. It will grow back thick and lush.

13. Scarlet Runner Beans

A close-up of runner beans showcasing vibrant green leaves and contrasting flowers, one-row flaunting white blooms, the other adorned in red. These vines elegantly wind along a wooden trellis embedded in rich brown soil, framed by a charming wooden garden house in the backdrop.
Soak scarlet runner bean seeds before planting to speed germination.
botanical-name botanical name Phaseolus coccineus
height height 10-15’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7-11

Runner beans are a fast-growing annual vine that can easily grow and cover a wide area. Use it to grow on chain link fences to block the neighboring view. Or you can put a trellis up and have them climb whatever object you want. You can even use betting. I’ve planted them in pots with trellises to make quick movable screens.

Plant scarlet runner beans in full sun. Soak the seeds for a few hours or overnight before planting them. If you live in a colder zone, they grow wonderfully as annuals.

14. Sweet Peas

A close-up of Sweet Peas revealing delicate pink blooms against a backdrop of lush green foliage. The blooms cascade gracefully amidst the verdant tangle of leaves and vines, creating a mesmerizing visual tapestry.
Despite their low cost, sweet peas grow impressively big and beautiful.
botanical-name botanical name Lathyrus odoratus
height height 3-6’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

I used to live in a yard that was separated from my neighbor by only a chain link fence. We both planted sweet pea seeds on either side each spring and by the summer, we’d have a barrier of beautiful flowers.

You can also put netting over whatever you want to cover, and the stalks of sweet peas will wrap around and cover it.

Plant the seeds in the late winter or early spring, as soon as the ground can be worked. Keep the area watered and watch them grow. 

This is a great choice for renters who do not want to spend much on plants for the garden. Sweet pea seeds are inexpensive, but the plant grows large and attractive.

15. Yucca

The yucca plant exhibits elegant white clusters of blooms, standing tall amidst its sharp, spiky green leaves. In the backdrop, other branches from a different tree adorned with vibrant green leaves bask in the sunlight, creating a scenic natural tapestry.
Plant yuccas for drought tolerance, but be careful of its spiky foliage.
botanical-name botanical name Yucca spp.
height height species dependent 
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-11 (species dependent)

Yuccas have a strong structure and large, spiky leaves, which are good at blocking unsightly objects and views.

There are many varieties of yuccas. Some are more indoor plants that look good in pots. These can be placed around to block cords or BBQ hookups. Adam’s needle yucca (Yucca filamentosa) is a large evergreen perennial with spiky foliage that can block views of garbage bins, utility boxes, or air conditioners. They are spikey and hard to get through, so I wouldn’t plant them around anything you need to access.

Yuccas like full sun and well-drained soil. They are a great drought-tolerant choice.

Final Thoughts 

I always like finding a natural solution to covering an unsightly garden object or view. Plants will seamlessly cover an object and blend in with your surrounding garden. It won’t even necessarily look like you tried to cover the object. It’s a great trick and will keep your garden looking beautiful.

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