July 14, 2011
Many houses have this type of situation where utility boxes, hydrants and phone boxes are placed in the front lawn. Not a pretty picture, but a necessary one.
The temptation is to plant shrubs around them to hide the boxes. That's a great idea, but you first have to understand the rules. You want to do it the right way. The first people to call would be Dig Safe to find out where the underground lines are. They will come and place red flags where there are lines that you should avoid and you can not dig very deep.
The second thing to do is to contact the power or the utility company. They have regulations as far as how close you can plant your shrubs, flowers, and trees to the equipment. They need to have access to the boxes in case something breaks. This is actually a right-of-way. They have the full right to come in here and take anything out, if they need to, and if you plant too close to the box.
If you wanted to plant some little annual flowers and you didn't care whether they tromped all over them, that's fine. However, with more permanent plantings, you're taking a risk. You need to leave 12 feet in front of the boxes clear, so they can go in there. And they need at least 3 feet on either side and 5 feet on the diagonal free of plants.
So no big shrubs or trees that will grow large, because eventually, you're running the risk of the power company coming in and ripping it out if they have to get to that box. On the next show, we're going to talk about what shrubs and perennials will actually work the best in this situation. We're going to make it all so much better!
By Charlie Nardozzi
PO Box 4508