Disguising Eyesores


Many gardens have unsightly views inside and beyond, but with the right know-how, it's possible to disguise both. The most simple and effective disguise is usually to use plants to hide or screen any eyesores, but there are some features that may benefit from more specific methods.


Boundaries can be a real problem, such as scruffy fences and overshadowing or ugly walls. If fences and walls do not belong to you, make sure you check with your neighbour before taking any action.

If repair or replacement is not an option, you can make a new barrier on your side of the boundary. Use smaller posts, and your choice of screen:

  • Train wire between upright posts and use the wire to support climbing plants such as ivy or Virginia creeper.
  • Consider using trellis to make an attractive secondary barrier.

If you have enough space, you could consider planting tall evergreens in front of high overshadowing walls to soften them. For the more adventurous, you could use the wall as a screen to paint trompe l'oeil scenes, although you will probably need to ask a professional to do this.

Alternatively, think about creating focal points with interesting features and planting inside the garden which will attract the eye rather than the ugly view beyond.


Manholes are usually sited in places near the house, such as driveways, patios and paths. To disguise, use inset covers that you can put temporary paving over. Either follow the pattern of the surrounding paving or use smaller units. Alternatively, you could turn the inset cover into a more creative solution by transforming it into a pebble mosaic. Again, repeat at other points in your paving.

Manholes are occasionally positioned right in the middle of the lawn, as can septic tank overflows for country gardeners. In this case, simply stand a pot or other ornament on it. In a border it can be covered with low spreading plants.

Garden Sheds

Garden sheds can be screened with shrubs or a hedge. Alternatively, plant a climber that will scramble over the walls and roof.


Dustbins are best disguised in a surround or store made of brick, stone or timber.

Compost Heaps

Compost heaps are best positioned in a corner of the garden, with plenty of evergreen shrubs planted around them to provide a screen. Consider creating an area that will house your dustbin and compost bin.

Gas Tank

If you want to disguise a gas tank, choose a good backbone of evergreens, such as holly (Ilex), oleaster (Elaeagnus), Laurustinus (Viburnum tinus) and box (Buxus). Alternatively, screen off a rectangular space using fence or trellis panels. You may be able to make this multi functional by including bins and composting in the same area.