If you have a gas meter either attached to your house or free-standing in your garden, you might be looking for a way to block it from view. You needn't be an expert gardener to arrange attractive yet easy-to-care for plants that make a living screen to hide it, still allowing needed access to the meter Good choices include certain shrubs, including many attractive bloomers, some perennials and other types of bushy plants.
Before beginning to plant, it's critical to determine the location of any underground gas lines to avoid hitting them while digging and causing a dangerous situation. At least a week or two before planting, call 811, a national service that routes your call to a local call center -- it schedules a visit to your property to mark the location of underground gas lines leading to and from your meter. When ready to plant, also plan for at least 1 foot of empty space between your meter and mature plants, to allow free access for gas company personnel. It's also a good idea to check with your gas company for any other requirements.
You can successfully hide a gas meter by planting a few flowering shrubs in front of it, or by surrounding it with plants if it's free-standing. Choose plants that are moderately tall and wide at maturity -- good examples include Chinese buttonbrush (Adina rubella), which has white, button-like flowers in summer and likes full sun to partial shade, and indigofera (Indigofera amblyantha), which has pink flower spikes from May into summer and prefers full sun. Both plants are 6 to 8 feet tall and wide at maturity and grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 9. When planting, allow one-half the plant's mature width plus 1 foot, or about 5 feet, between the plants and the meter.
You can also disguise a gas meter by designing a flowering perennial border that surrounds it, using plants with a tall growth habit that help develop an effective screen. Good choices include the larkspur (Delphinium spp.), which blooms in many colors. For example, a group of cultivars called "Pacific Hybrids" (Delphinium Pacific Hybrids) reach a height of 4 to 6 feet, grow in USDA zones 3 though 7 and have flowers in blue, white, pink or purple. They're only about 3 feet wide, making them especially good choices that can be planted as close as 2 1/2 feet from the meter. Other examples include the rose mallow (Hibiscus lasiocarpos), which has white or rose flowers, is up to 7 feet tall but only 3 feet wide and grows in USDA zones 5 through 9, and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), about 2 feet wide and 5 feet tall, and suitable for USDA zones 3 through 8.
Using a trellis covered with attractive vining plants is another strategy to hide a gas meter, provided you leave at least 1 foot of empty space behind the trellis and train plants to remain on the trellis and away from the meter. Choices include the "Nelly Moser" cultivar of clematis (Clematis "Nelly Moser"), which grows in USDA zones 4 through 8, tolerates full sun through partial shade, and has clinging vines up to 10 feet long that attach readily to a trellis. The white-flowered moonflower vine (Ipomea alba) is a good choice for a sunny spot in warmer regions, growing in zones 10 through 12, while the cross vine cultivar "Tangerine Beauty" (Bignonia capreolata "Tangerine Beauty") is an option in USDA zones 6 through 10. It has orange flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies, and prefers partial shade.
- Fine Gardening: 10 Shrubs for Summer Color
- American Petroleum Institute: Dig Safely Around Utilities
- 811: How 811 Works
- Fine Gardening: "Tangerine Beauty" Cross Vine
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Delphinium (Pacific Hybrids)
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Echinacea Purpurea
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Hibiscus Lasiocarpos
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Clematis "Nelly Moser"
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Ipomea Alba
- Photo Credit graffoto8/iStock/Getty Images
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